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SportVu's missile-tracking technology turns basketball into a numbers game

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FastCoDesign takes a look at Stats' SportVu, a system that uses webcams to capture spatial data for NBA games to generate near-real-time analytics.

basketball hoop (FLICKR)
basketball hoop (FLICKR)

From the Fitbit to the FuelBand, fitness-tracking technology is trickling down to the consumer level, but the big guns are still with who'd you expect: the pros. FastCoDesign takes a look at SportVu, a system that uses webcams — and algorithms derived from a missile-tracking system — to provided nuanced and detailed analytics for NBA teams. Owned by Stats, a company that provides statistical data to ESPN and CBS, the SportVu system records the location of the players and refs on the court, and the the location of the ball in three-dimensional space, 25 times per second. Results can be processed and stats produced in less than 60 seconds. SportVu is currently installed in just 10 NBA arenas, but with spatial analysis clearly an important trend in sports analytics — and with Stats exploring the use of SportVU in NFL stadiums as well — we only expect to see more of these systems in coming years. If you're interested in stats, sports, or any combination, you should definitely take a look at FastCoDesign's article.