Player Tracking for the Ultra-High-Definition Generation
Analytics company Second Spectrum has released the first glimpse of Dragon, its new player tracking engine. Dragon uses a “mesh tracking” system, which exponentially expands the amount of player data it records. The legacy version collects two to three dozen points on an athlete’s body—Dragon can capture at least 7,000, blanketing an athlete’s entire body. Dragon will not only increase the amount of performance data collected, but helps advance the use of AR and VR in sports (ESPN used Second Spectrum tech to create the Marvel-themed alternate NBA broadcast in 2021.) The improvements are so promising that Second Spectrum has found a deep bench to help it develop Dragon: the NBA.
While teams may view the mountain of new data as promising for performance tracking, the most interesting prospect for the average fan is how the data can enhance the viewing experience. Mapping and tracking an athlete’s entire body opens doors for more realistic virtual and augmented reality. With near-instant latency, new customized broadcast options become available where fans at home have more control than ever over how they want to watch their favorite athletes compete in real time, be it from a courtside seat or perhaps even closer—from the referee’s perspective (minus the coaches screaming at them, of course).