More excerpts from my upcoming book, The New Polymath due in June. The book celebrates innovations of all kinds including those around The United Football League – yes the one which had its first season last year
The UFL announced today an expansion into the city of Omaha in the football fanatic state of Nebraska.
“Welcome to the United Football League (UFL), a new professional league Hambrecht founded with plenty of technological pedigree. Hambrecht’s first firm, Hambrecht & Quist, took many a tech company public since it was founded in 1968. He is a legend in Silicon Valley. Tim Armstrong, ex-Google and now CEO of AOL, is another founder of the league. Mark Cuban, another technology billionaire, broadcasts UFL games on his network, HDNet. From game one, the new league has technology the NFL took decades to introduce.”
“The UFL has instant replay in its games, the first-down yellowline on TV, and skycams that show the game from different angles. It has video on demand and other ancillary content on its Web site. It blogs and is on Twitter and Facebook. The games are broadcast in high-definition on Versus (a sports network) and HDNet networks.”
“Today, we take some of this football technology—like the yellow line—for granted. That feature, by itself, takes plenty of computing power to adjust the camera’s constant movements as it zooms and tilts. The computers must be able to distinguish between grass, on which the line should be painted, and everything else (players, referees, the ball), on which it should not.”
“Clinton Wu is the assistant to the commissioner. He played football at Princeton, but it is clear he did not skip his computer science classes. Wu describes some of the technology the UFL is tinkering with:
- A GPS chip inside the football. Fans would enjoy tracking the velocity and trajectory of the thrown ball. Referees would get more precise measurements for first downs and ball spotting.
- Impact sensors in helmets and shoulder pads. Fans could see an impact meter on the broadcasts that would measure the forces of each hit. Also, on the medical side, concussive hits could be cataloged and studied further.
- Brain-computer-interface technology from NeuroSky to measure brain wave activity. Fans would enjoy seeing a meter on the big screen showing the “nerves” of a kicker as he anxiously sets up for a game winning field goal as the clock counts down.”