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Tackling the dummies and virtual Euros: the innovation making waves in the world of sport

A look at the technology and innovation currently making waves across the world of sport

Published in Sports Management 30 May 2016 issue 121
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue

Tackling the dummies

National Football League (NFL) team Pittsburgh Steelers is using robotic tackling dummies during its pre-season training sessions.

The technology, called Mobile Virtual Player (MVP), is operated by a remote control and has the ability to weave, stop and start – reaching speeds achieved by the fastest NFL players.

MVP was developed at Dartmouth College – an Ivy League research university – in New Hampshire, US, and is being used to practice tackling and passing drills. The remote controlled dummy can also be operated to simulate a running back, and plays a vital role in a number of other training methods.

“It’s an awesome piece of football technology,” said Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Steelers. “I am always interested in ways to utilise technology in terms of teaching football. We are excited to get a close look at it.

“The applications we’re finding are endless as it never gets tired and it runs at an appropriate football speed. All of the position groups are getting an opportunity to use it. It’s funny, you just put it on the field and watch the guys and they show you the applications. It’s been fun watching that.”

The idea for the “MVP” came to life after Dartmouth University football coach Buddy Teevens banned live tackling in practice because of injuries.

www.steelers.com

A Pittsburgh Steelers player takes on the Mobile Virtual Player
A Pittsburgh Steelers player takes on the Mobile Virtual Player

VIRTUAL EUROS

European football governing body UEFA has revealed it will be capturing matches in virtual reality at this summer’s Euro 2016 Finals.

A number of high profile games in the tournament will be filmed using Nokia OZO cameras, which have the ability to capture 360-degree video footage.

As well as the action on the pitch, the footage can be panned to view fans’ reactions in the stands – as well as the reaction of the players and coaches.

The technology was recently tested during the UEFA Champions League semi-final between Spanish giant Real Madrid and English Premier League team Manchester City.

While the footage from the Euro 2016 tournament will be stored for an as yet unspecified future use, UEFA has hinted that it is looking to increase the use of VR technology and find a way of creating immersive broadcasts in the near future.

www.nokia.com

katatonia82 / shutterstock
katatonia82 / shutterstock

Running along

Video technology developer Outside Interactive is partnering with Atlanta Track Club to create a virtual race-day experience of the classic AJC Peachtree Road Race.

The virtual experience will enable runners to take part in the race – or train on the famous course – virtually on any treadmill using an iPad or Android tablet.

Exclusive footage will be shot the day of this year’s race in Atlanta, Georgia on 4 July, immediately prior to the event.  

Footage will be shot from a runner’s perspective to produce a high-definition video that allows viewers to interactively run the virtual race course.

The iPad and Android apps allow for manual adjustment of the video speed to match the runner’s pace by minutes per mile or kilometre.  Future versions of Virtual Runner will also be compatible with select treadmill brands, allowing for control of video speed as well as incline adjustment to simulate hills on the course.

Gary McNamee, president and founder of Outside Interactive said: “The AJC Peachtree Road Race is the largest race in the country and we’re excited at the chance to partner with Atlanta Track Club to bring their course to the world.

”With 60,000 participants and thousands of spectators lining the course, we hope to capture all the electricity and excitement of race day.

“For future races, runners who can’t participate in the live event on race day will have an alternative to be engaged and entertained when running on their treadmill the other 364 days of the year.”

www.outsideinteractive.com

Runners will be able to take part in the race virtually on a treadmill using an iPad or Android tablet
Runners will be able to take part in the race virtually on a treadmill using an iPad or Android tablet

Print finish

US-based footwear specialist New Balance has become the first clothing manufacturer to make a 3D-printed running shoe commercially available to the general public.

Called the Zante Generate, the shoe has been created in partnership with 3D printing organisation 3D Systems.
Using 3D Systems’ laser sintering powder, DuraForm TPU Elastomer, New Balance says it has made “significant advancements” in the performance of printed parts for running shoes.

“New Balance is at the forefront of 3D printing and has been utilising this exciting and innovative technology to customise product for our athletes for a number of years,” said New Balance CEO Robert DeMartini.

“Our unique position as both a manufacturer and retailer allows us to bring the world’s first 3D printed running midsole to market.  

“The Zante Generate demonstrates the strength of New Balance design and innovation and will allow consumers to own a piece of running technology history.”

www.newbalance.co.uk

The 3D-printed running shoe will be available to the public
The 3D-printed running shoe will be available to the public
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