The world of professional sports has been a quick adopter of new technologies, not only improving athlete performance through novel solutions but also enhancing the fan experience.

A new artificial intelligence (AI) solution from CES® 2021 exhibitor Intel is now helping National Football League (NFL) hopefuls better understand how their bodies move, giving them information to make adjustments toward achieving peak performance and earning a coveted position in the league.

Intel’s 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT) technology captures and analyzes skeletal data and reveals never-before insights about an athlete’s body in motion.

Bridging Feeling and Knowledge

Different skeletal structures may be a factor in one athlete moving faster or more nimbly than another. Using a video camera capturing 60 frames per second, the 3DAT program uncovers insights about velocity, acceleration and biomechanics based on the construction of the athlete’s skeleton.

Ashton Eaton, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Intel’s product development engineer in the Olympic Technology Group, explained that 3DAT allows athletes to understand precisely what their body is doing and what exactly to target to improve.

“When I was running the 100-meter dash, I’d work with my coach to make adjustments to shave off fractions of a second, but it was all by feel,” he said. “Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, because I didn’t fully know what my body was actually doing.”


There’s Nothing Holding Them Back

More than uncovering technique improvements and body angles unseen by the naked eye, 3DAT can also identify tics and movements that can negatively affect an athlete’s performance or reveal minute fractures and repeated strain on the body to prevent more serious injuries.

The program is designed to help athletes realize their full potential through customized analytics catered to how their specific body moves and performs on and off the field.

Eaton explained that the AI technology capturing how muscles interact with the body has not yet been created but may also uncover significant athlete performance factors in the future.

Not Just for the Athletes

Intel originally designed 3DAT for TV commentators covering the 2020 Olympics, allowing reporters to show interested viewers how star athletes move and perform differently from other people.

The technology can overlay AI-generated visuals of athlete forms over event replays, giving a new data-enabled look at fan engagement. The now rescheduled Olympics may still be the stage where Intel’s 3DAT makes its official debut for viewers and not just the athletes themselves.

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