Every game of the 2019-2020 KHL season, which began on September 1, has featured the use of smart pucks and chips embedded in each of the players’ jerseys. The new sensors and telematics systems provide advanced data and analytics on each player and for every team, and delivers the data and information in real time to officials, fans, coaches and broadcasters. The system is very similar to the technologies that the NHL has been in the process of rolling out for the last few seasons. It may not hold the significance of “the great space race” of the 1960’s, but the Russians appear to have beat the Americans in the great real-time hockey data race.
KHL SYSTEM OVERVIEW
As previously mentioned, the KHL’s next-generation data system is very similar to the system currently proposed by the NHL, scheduled for possible roll-out sometime during the 2019-2020 season. The KHL system utilizes tracking chips embedded in each and every game puck and in the jerseys of each and every player. Data is generated by sensors situated around the arena that track each and every chip. Backend processors aggregate the real time data. Next-generation analytics applications (software) process the data and disseminate to officials, coaches, fans, media and third-party vendors, all in real-time.
Sergei Dobrokhvalov, KHL Vice President for Marketing and Communications
This technology can be used by anyone who is interested in the results, from TV companies and websites to scouts and bookmakers. The coaching staff of our teams will also be able to access the information. The world of sport is embracing AI technologies and this solution offers advanced stats and analytics which can help coaches make the right decisions during every game.
The technology isn’t just for players. Referees will also wear the chips and the officiating department will be able to assess the mobility of refs and linesmen as well as identifying their positions during key incidents.
It’s a fully automated system. Aside from the chips in pucks and jerseys, sensors are fitted around the arena to harvest the on-ice data. It’s reliable and energy-efficient: the chips themselves weigh a couple of grams and have sufficient power to work for the whole season without recharging. The whole analytical platform is fully automated and the set-up is scalable.
The National Hockey League is confident its new puck and player tracking system will be ready by the 2019-2020 post-season, despite dropping Jogmo World Corp as its primary technology partner last week. According to ESPN, technology company SMT is the league’s new partner in this initiative.
“We’re in the process of making a switch,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Jogmo had some organizational and financial challenges which we were concerned about at the offset, but actually came to fruition. We have a new partner who can do it and we’re very confident that that hasn’t slowed us down.”
The NHL has approached the roll out of the next generation data and information systems in an opposite fashion, compared to the KHL. The NHL has spent the last year developing data and gambling partnerships prior to system rollout. The KHL has approached the same rollout by first implementing the technology, and then developing partnerships around the new systems as their inaugural season progresses.
A NEW DAWN FOR DATA
Regardless of who was first to market, the new data and analytics systems represent the next-generation in data and analysis. The new systems move hockey data and analytics from static, two-dimensional data, to three dimensional data with specific time and locations added to each and every data element. The new systems can pinpoint player and puck locations at every instance of a game, thus allowing a much greater and wider analytics perspective.
By Jon Sorensen
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