Football analysis enters the 21st century

Hangzhou, China

For years now, analysing professional sports has been big business and football is no exception. Gone are the days where improvement relied solely upon coaches watching the game for the sidelines and then discussing it from what they saw afterwards. Football clubs now use technology to help them monitor and analyse the game – and Hikvision, in partnership with various other technology providers, has been delivering state-of-the-art camera technology to help premier league Dutch team Ajax to improve its game.

Hikvision Panovu and PTZ cameras have been installed at the Ajax training grounds. These provide a simple way for coaches and players to make sense of the huge amounts of data that analysis technologies create. They work, for example, with the RFID tracking technology provided to Ajax by sensor expert Inmotio. This technology sends data from a harness worn by the players about their position and physical parameters based on GPS location. Coaches can see personal data, like heart rate, distance travelled, average acceleration, kilograms but-impact strength suffered, etc to help them to get a full picture of a player’s performance.

With a number of different technologies following a game, the data streams are many and complex. On top of that, there are analyses throughout the process, from scouting and selection to training and the games themselves. All this can be difficult to make sense of in presentation, and that’s where another partnership comes in – the one between Hikvision and software provider Gameon. The sports management software provided by Gameon processes all of these different data feeds together and integrates with Hikvision cameras to display them in a simple way.

“The science applied to sports is starting to deliver information that is so complex that suddenly neither coaches nor athletes were really understanding what it meant. For this projectent I understood that I lacked an interface layer to connect people and data, and we chose to integrate the layers, using video.” says Max Reckers, Ajax’s Performance Technologist.

The core of the analytics solutions lies with the Hikvision technology, literally capturing every angle of a game. A 24MP Panovu (DS-2CD6A64F) is used at Ajax’s ‘Sport Complex of the Future’ training ground which provides a full 180 degree view of the pitch, meaning that all the action can be seen, wherever the players are on the pitch. The camera also provides very clear images – with four lenses of 6MP each, making a total of 24MP - one of the highest definition Panovu cameras in the industry. The cameras have a frame per second rate of 30, meaning that nothing will be missed.

The feeds from the camera are the base for the Gameon software, which can then overlay the data from all the technology sources together. This makes the data easy to understand and simple to explain – giving coaches and player alike a simple insight into the game and how it can be improved. Essentially, the Hikvision technology is making the numbers visible and palatable, as a simpler user interface.

A separate Hikvision camera – this time a PTZ (or pan, tilt, zoom) device (network speed dome DS-2DF6A836X) brings another dimension to the solution. Because the PTZ has automatic tracking capabilities, it can follow the action as it happens and zoom in when needed. There’s no need for an operator to keep an eye on proceedings and manually track the game.

The use of Hikvision’s IVMS 4200 software and an NVR also means that the footage can be saved, and called up whenever it’s needed in the future. This makes it invaluable to in-depth analysis and strategic planning. Hikvision’s application of the H.265+ codec means that large packets of image data can be transferred at speeds that make lag a thing of the past, when monitoring in real-time, for example.

Reckers added: “The Panovu camera is opening an entirely new world for us in the world of performance analysis. Being able to capture the full pitch at high resolution is simplifying our analysis process so much. Being able to provide real-time feedback to coaches and players empowers us even more. The use of video is essential because at the end of the day, football should not be about numbers, but about sport, and that's what these solutions allow us to do."

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