American football combines athleticism, strength, grit and teamwork in a way that no other sport can. The game continues to evolve, and the National Football League has become a powerful entertainment spectacle. From state-of-the art billion dollar stadiums, to fan experience on TV and radio, to the focus on player health ... Here are the top five new technologies to watch for in the coming NFL seasons.
1. Safer Helmets
Injuries have always been a part of the game but recently player health has been pushed to the forefront for the NFL. The deteriorated mental health of retired players has spawned a number of tech advancements for player safety, and head safety in particular.
The company MC-10 has partnered with Reebok to create a chip that can be worn under a skullcap, under the helmet. Sensors in the chip monitor the force of a hit and feed information to computers after each play. According to Isaiah Kacyvenski, former player and current chair of the NFL's Sports Advisory Board, it's as simple as a "green hit, yellow hit, or red hit … if a red light is triggered, severe impact, come to the sideline and you're assessed." He feels that this not only monitors hit dangers but it encourages behavioral change because athletes, who don't want to miss plays on the sideline after red hits, will eventually learn to tackle and play in a more moderate and safe zone.
2. Tracking Devices
Tracking devices will eventually be a required part of NFL life. Players will be required to "wear non-obtrusive tracking devices in select practices and games", according to a league memo sent to teams in August. The devices are intend to monitor "positional and performance data," including speed, distance traveled, and field locations.
While the NFL mandate is new, the Buffalo Bills have been using similar technology in their strength and conditioning program for over a year now. "They talk about the distance you covered and the explosiveness and how fast you’re running" says Bills running back C.J. Spiller.
3. Free-D Advanced Replays
Using a number of strategically placed cameras with freeze frame technology, we can enjoy Matrix-like replays seconds after a play happens. It'll be even harder for officiators of any sport to get it wrong (even if we know they'll find a way).
4. Wi-fi in Stadiums
Surprisingly, there's only a handful of teams with Wi-fi service in their football stadiums. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants to change that and he intends to make wireless internet a standard in NFL stadiums in the coming years.
5. First Down Laser Technology
A push by the league to improve the "in stadium" experience for fans could possibly include this new first down laser technology. High Definition television has allowed for an incredible home experience for NFL fans, including the tv-added yellow first down line across the field. Currently, players on field and fans in the stadium don't have the luxury of a visible first down marker line, and are forced to wait for an antiquated system of manual first down measurement. This cool technology from "First Down Laser Systems LLC" could change all that. The technology has not been officially taken on by the NFL, but why not? It sounds awesome.