NFL replays will be a lot more fun this season, thanks to RFID chips in players’ shoulder pads

NFL football
The NFL is about to get a lot geekier. This season, every NFL player will have RFID chips embedded in his shoulder pads. The data gleaned from that wireless tracking technology will be displayed in video game-like format in the NFL 2015 app for the Xbox One and Windows 10.

This plan is the expected expansion of an endeavor that began last year, when Zebra Technologies outfitted 18 NFL stadiums with RFID systems, with broadcasters as the intended beneficiaries of the resulting data and statistics (e.g., a player’s real-time speed, distance, and direction). The chips inserted in players’ shoulder pads will yield data that will be fed into the “Next Gen Stats” feature of the NFL 2015 app on Microsoft platforms, according to Wired.

This part of the app, which will launch in late August, displays a dashboard, where each player will appear as a simple digital avatar on a virtual football field alongside a live replay of a highlight play. The shoulder pad chips will feed each player’s speed at each moment of a play along with the actual play-specific or total game yardage a running back has run. Users will also be able to toggle between players on the field in this “Next Gen Replay.”

There’s also a mini-game within the Next Gen Replay feature called “NGS Pick’em,” which lets users predict 8-10 players they think will run the fastest or most during a game. Another feature called “Afterburner” spotlights the fastest players in the NFL.

As soon as a highlight clip is posted to, the Xbox NFL app will have Next Gen Replay ready for users to enjoy, according to Todd Stevens, executive producer at Microsoft.

“We will tie Next Gen Stats into every replay that comes into the Xbox,” Stevens said. “Replays like a one-yard touchdown run, you don’t really need Next Gen Stats. But some of these plays, like a long pass play, are truly spectacular. We wanted to give them a bit of special sauce.”

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