Thursday, 12 April 2012

* Adidas to sex up football through "datatainment"
Athletes and coaches are swimming in data these days, and Adidas is adding to the pool as it joins Major League Soccer to make this year’s all-star game against Chelsea the world’s first “smart soccer match.”

Adidas will embed its miCoach data tracker in uniforms worn by players competing in the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25. The “professional soccer team tracking system” riffs on the miCoach Speed Cell introduced last year, and Adidas says it will provide coaches with real-time data about player position and performance.

The league announced today that the All-Stars will host English Premier League team Chelsea. This is the eighth consecutive year a British club has challenged the best players in major league soccer. The match affords Chelsea a chance to avenge its 1-0 loss to the Yanks in 2006.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement that it is “an honor” having Adidas debut “game-changing and revolutionary technology” at the all-star game in Chester, Pennsylvania, calling it “the perfect opportunity” to introduce the technology.

The move comes as some within soccer, with a global audience estimated at 3.5 billion people, hope to sex up stats to create “datatainment.” The idea is to use the terabytes of data soccer generates to enrich the experience and broaden the game’s appeal.

Adidas is keeping mum on how its “professional soccer team tracking system” works until the All-Star game, and it didn’t offer any details on what fans might gain from it. It also cannot confirm that both teams will wear the gadgets. And the video explaining the system has been taken down because of copyright violations.

But the technology appears to build on the MiCoach Speed Cell. The Speed Cell is a bit smaller than a poker chip and typically snaps into the bottom of the Adizero F50 soccer shoe. It tracks pace and distance, average and maximum speed, distance covered at high intensity and acceleration. It is part of a broader trend within the industry to create so-called “smart shoes” that use radio frequency identification tags, motion sensors and accelerometers to customize appearance, fit and responsiveness. The shoes of tomorrow also will transmit data to the cloud.

The miCoach tech we’ll see at the all-star game takes it a step further, providing coaches with real-time info including player position, power output, speed, distance covered, intensity of play, acceleration and GPS mapping. Adidas says the tech will allows coaches to make more informed game-time decisions, but it won’t say more until July 25.

Adidas is “finding ways to use these innovations to create more immersive sporting environments and experiences that will revolutionize the way we view sports and engage and excite fans,” Patrik Nilsson, president of Adidas America, said in a statement.

Adidas says it will roll out the technology worldwide in coming seasons.

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