Eagles President Don Smolenski, whose name I love, spoke with reporters today about plans for training camp, which, in case you haven’t heard, will be held at the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field. Tim McManus over at Philly Mag has all the relevant details about tickets and practice field renovations, but this one bit, of course, stood out:
Smolenski discussed some of the equipment and technology upgrades at the facility since Chip Kelly took the reins. The team has new weight equipment, more cameras and video technology, and even added another lift to film practice. Further, there are now smart TVs throughout the complex that display the players’ daily schedule, etc. The Eagles have signed on with a company called Catapult Sports, which produces matchbook-size GPS devices packed with sensors that are worn on the uniform to measure things like agility, force and acceleration. In all, we were told that the technology upgrades cost the Eagles more than $1 million.
Yes. Chip Kelly is turning professional football players into automatons. I knew the day was coming. I just knew it, Hal. But I didn’t think it would be so soon.
Here’s how Forbes describes the OptimEye technology for which the Eagles may have paid upwards of $100,000:
Motion-tracking cameras and super slo-mo video analysis have become standard tech toys in the pro sports trainer’s toolbag. Now comes the OptimEye, a wearable sensor out of Australia that’s being sold as a way to squeeze even more performance out of expensive athletes. It’s made by a privately held firm called Catapult Sports that already has contracts with 250 programs in Australian and European pro soccer, national rowing programs, rugby and Aussie-rules football (proving it can take a hit). Catapult has deals now with 5 NBA teams and 6 in the NFL, recently signing the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills, with another 12 expected to sign before football season starts in September. “I realized after spending a season in the NBA that there was no real analysis of what the players did in training, and I was quite shocked,” says Dave Hancock, former training coach for Chelsea FC, now with the Knicks. “GPS had been used in the Premier League for the last eight years.”
The OptimEye system works by fitting a small ‘bug’ sensor unit in a player’s jersey on their upper back around the T1 vertebra, which then tracks the athlete’s place in 3D space. Accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes not so different from what you’d find in an iPhone track gravitational load, distance and direction data. Unlike your phone though, Catapult then isolates the data using filters to pinpoint an athlete’s exact direction for each acceleration or step. For indoor tracking, Catapult deploys internal stadium antennas to pick up frequencies from athletes in real time, giving an indoor GPS-type solution for hockey and basketball teams without satellite help.
It’s basically the NFL’s PRISM, knowing where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re
emailing tackling at all times. And it’s awesome. Here, look– this is taken from a video on Catapult’s website. Fucking Chip Kelly, he’s playing Tecmo Bowl with Michael Vick. Brilliant. Goddamn brilliant:
Really, who needs game film when you have this?
To recap: Chip Kelly has his players on a healthy diet with customized smoothies, wearing sleep monitors, he’s brainwashed them with cheesy pop, and now, they’ll be fully mechanized. Me thinks the Eagles are going to be very good this year. Basically what All-Madden AI was supposed to be. Fear us, human teams.
Watch the video after the jump.