US 20050202905 A1
A method and system for accurately determining player position and movements, as well as movement of other objects during a sporting event. Transmissions from a transmitter attached to the moving object are used in conjunction with a plurality of receivers and a processor to precisely determine the object's location and movement. The produced location and movement data is usable to simulate play of the game, to determine play events or outcomes, and to allow modeling and other use of the data produced. In another variation, a camera, microphone, or other directional recorder is used with the location and movement data to track play. In an additional variation, data associated with the player or other moving object is used for such purposes to assist in identification of players and to ease broadcast commentary.
1. A method for determining sporting event position information, the method comprising:
receiving transmission data from a sporting event transmitter; and
determining a position of the sporting event transmitter.
2. The method of
producing a representation of sporting event play using the position transmission data.
3. The method of
comparing the position transmission data to data for a sporting event playing area to determine the position of the sporting event transmitter relative to at least one known location in the playing area.
4. The method of
interpolating locations of the dimensions of the moveable object using the position of the sporting event transmitter.
5. The method of
receiving the position transmission data in a repository.
6. The method of
receiving the sporting event playing space data in a repository.
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. The method of
10. The method of
determining a play outcome using the compared position transmission data and sporting event playing space data.
11. The method of
statistically analyzing the received position transmission data.
12. The method of
providing an option to play a simulated sporting event using the statistically analyzed position transmission data.
13. The method of
14. A method for controlling a sporting event camera, the sporting event camera having an orientation, the method comprising:
receiving position transmission data from a sporting event transmitter, the sporting event transmitter having a position; and
varying the orientation of the sporting event camera to track the position of the sporting event transmitter.
15. A method for receiving sporting event sound using a directional sound receiving device, the method comprising:
receiving position transmission data from a sporting event transmitter, the sporting event transmitter having a position; and
directing the directional sound receiving device to track the position of the sporting event transmitter.
16. A method for identifying a moveable object in a sporting event, the method comprising:
receiving position transmission data from a sporting event transmitter attached to the moveable object, the sporting event transmitter transmitting position information and an associated identifier for the moveable object; and
communicating the associated identifier information for the moveable object.
17. The method of
displaying the associated identifier information for the moveable object.
18. The method of
using the communicated identifier information for the moveable object in a broadcast.
19. A system for determining sporting event position information, the system comprising:
a sporting event transmitter;
a plurality of receivers for receiving information transmitted by the sporting event transmitter; and
a processor for determining a position of the sporting event transmitter using the information received by the plurality of receivers.
20. The system of
21. The system of
22. The system of
23. The system of
24. The system of
25. The system of
26. The system of
27. A system for determining sporting event position information, the system comprising:
This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/370,152 of William Chesser filed Apr. 8, 2002, titled METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR USE OF GIS IN SPORTING EVENTS. The entirety of that provisional application is incorporated herein by reference.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to use of geographic locating devices or systems for sporting event applications, and in particular, to use a of Geographic Information System (GIS) for such sporting events as football.
2. Background of the Technology
One of the problems in football and other sports is accurately deciding questions about player, ball, and other moveable object positions on the field or other playing area. When ambiguities arise in the game that threaten the overall fairness of play or a particular match, they most often arise in these areas.
Examples of such problems in football game situations, for example, include the following:
1. Players who are in control of the ball sometimes step out of bounds, either by being forced out or on accident. When they step out, play must cease. However, due to such factors as the limited number of officials on the field, and the limitations of human vision of those officials even when they are in the perfect position for observation, particularly given that such events may happen in a very short time period, a player's stepping out of bounds or not stepping out could be under question and difficult to discern.
2. In order to score a touchdown, the ball must cross the plane of the opposing team's goal line while under the control of an offensive player. When there is a “dog pile” on the goal line, and the player in control of the ball is buried under this pile, it is difficult if not impossible for officials to accurately tell whether the ball crossed the plane in the player's possession because there are simply too many bodies in the way.
3. When a player makes a diving catch, it is sometimes difficult to tell whether or not he retained full control of the ball or if the ball touched the ground at some point (which would result in an incompletion) during the catch.
Similar issues arise with regard to other games or sporting events. There remains an unmet need to provide further accuracy in determining certain play events and results.
The present invention overcomes the above mentioned problems of the prior art, as well as others, by providing a method and system for accurate (to, for example, within millimeters of accuracy) tracking and logging of player, ball, and/or other object movements in a given area (e.g., field or court) using application of features in accordance with existing GIS technologies. In an embodiment of the present invention, transmissions from a transmitter attached to the moving object to be tracked are used in conjunction with a plurality of receivers and a processor to precisely determine the object's location and movement. The produced location and movement data is usable to simulate play of the game, to determine play events or outcomes, and to allow modeling and other use of the data produced. In another variation, a camera, microphone, or other directional recorder is used with the location and movement data to track play. In yet another variation, data associated with the player or other moving object is used for such purposes to assist in identification of players and to ease broadcast commentary.
With the present invention, such questions as whether a player has stepped out of bounds and whether a pass completion has occurred are able to be determined much more accurately. Further, ball spotting, for example, after individual plays, is able to be much more accurate, and answers to questions about whether a player reached a first down mark can be more precisely determined. In addition, the measuring and recording aspects of the system can be used to solve more wide reaching problems, such as the following:
1. Player and ball movement data that has been collected via the present invention can be made available to the coaches and planning staff of various teams. This information may be used for such purposes as running statistical models of player movements. Such statistical models are able, for example, to assist coaches, planning staff, and players with improving their game play by making the sport more scientifically analyzable.
2. Player and ball movement data of opposing teams may be used by coaches and planning staff in conjunction with their own team data to run statistical simulations of upcoming matches between home teams and rivals. This allows better planning of offensive and defensive strategies, again resulting in a more scientifically approached game.
3. Player and ball movement data may be used by video game makers or other entities having a need for precise game-related data, allowing more accurate team simulations in video games or other applications. Instead of running generic team strategies, for example, with enough team data, game manufacturers are able to design simulations that very accurately mimic the game play of specific teams or players. For example, when playing against the 2004 Rams in computer simulation, the Computerized Rams would actually perform in a stistically similar manner to the real team. Individual player simulations would behave, statistically, just like their real life counterparts. With enough data points, computer generated player models could even be made to appear to run and move with very similar motions to the real player they mimic. Also, teams that could never actually play each other due to temporal displacement, such as the 2004 Rams and the 2024 Giants, could be pitted against each other in computer simulated games.
4. Real time player and ball motion data is able to be broadcast or otherwise transmitted over relatively low bandwidth Internet or other network connections. This allows anyone with the right rendering software, for example, to use a computer or other device containing a processor to simulate in real time an actual game that they might otherwise be unable to view due to lack of access (e.g., due to lack of bandwidth, or lack of local coverage)
In an embodiment of the present invention, data received from such inputs as player or player body part locations and ball tracking devices are tracked in real time. The data is analyzed for current position and used, for example, to generate a model of player and ball positions on a virtual field or other playing area, which represent the actual field of play, or for other purposes, such as to check a particular ball spot.
Analyses in this embodiment are performed in real time to track player positions on the field. Also analyzable in real time are such inputs or factors as the position of the ball, whether or not the ball was currently being controlled by a player, and if so, by what player. Further, for example, the relative position of the ball on the field, in combination with data about the player controlling it, can be used, for example, to determine whether or not the player controlling the ball stepped out of bounds, crossed the plane of the goal line, or crossed the plane of first down marker.
An embodiment of the present invention includes a system and method for gathering and analyzing data using a processor and analysis techniques known in the art, such as computer modeling. There are many ways analysis could be undertaken, which may vary in implementation depending, for example, on such factors as the frequency of data collection and the type of data collected. In one embodiment of the present invention, analysis is performed using a point, line, and polygon vector model.
Additional advantages and novel features of the invention will be set forth in part in the description that follows, and in part will become more apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following or upon learning by practice of the invention.
In the drawings:
In order to perform the GIS or other positional analysis for sporting events, embodiments of the present invention include devices and methods for data collection, data management, and other uses, such as modeling and statistical analysis, camera or microphone control, and player tracking assistance, as described further below and in conjunction with the attached figures.
Various aspects of methods and systems for an example data collection feature, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, will now be described in greater detail. It should be noted that, while one particular method of data collection will be described in greater detail below—in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention relating to Global Positioning System (GPS) analogous data collection—it will be apparent to those skilled in the art, upon learning and practice of the present invention, that other methods may also be used.
In general, data collection, in embodiments of the present invention, is accomplished in accordance with use of any of any of a number of known systems for tracking positional data within a known three-dimensional space, such as a building or stadium. In accordance with embodiments of the present invention, such systems generally include one or more of the following functions. First, a player and other tracked moving object database is compiled. This database could include, for example, information on each individual player, such as exact shoe size, hand thickness (from palm to the back of the hand, and finger length). This data may be collected before the start of each new game (although in some cases, archive data could be used) and is used, for example, to generate a new database for that game. In one embodiment of the present invention, each player has associated table entries for containing information in a repository, such as a database. Into this table are input such data as the above-mentioned information, as well as movement information for the particular game being played. In one embodiment, as indicated above and as will be further described below, the ball and/or each other moveable object to be tracked is also measured exactly and has its own associated table of information.
Movement information and the size, shape, and boundaries of the field or other three-dimensional space involved can be ascertained by several known location techniques. One embodiment of the present invention includes methods for collecting precise, accurate data using data within the electromagnetic spectrum. For example, existing technologies are known in the art that utilize cellular signal strength information to determine the direction of signal. (Such a system could be used in accordance with the present invention to make similar triangulations as an alternative to those methods used in the embodiment described in more detail below relating to GPS-like triangulation.) Any number of known systems could be used—however, one important factor involved in any technology for data collection used is the capability to collect precise, transmitter output information about player movements over a period of time and in small enough increments, such that exact position can be either known or extrapolated from the received data.
Further, the corresponding number of transmitters used for data collection in some embodiments described herein is variable. For example, in the particular embodiment described in further detail below, the transmitters in each shoe and on the back of each hand are useful for the particular example application. In an alternative to the embodiment described, for example, the transmitters in the helmet could be dispensed with. Further, for example, some aspects of the variation described below allow collection and use of data so as to permit interpolation or other data development (e.g., the transmitter placement on hands in conjunction with player hand measurement data allows determination or interpolation of the outer points of a player's possible reach and direction of facing). Conversely, more transmitters could be used to produce more accurate or precise data.
Example Method and System for Data Collection Using GPS-Like Triangulation
One exemplary embodiment of the present invention utilizes GPS-like triangulation principles. In conjunction with this embodiment, in some variations, each player wears a number of small radio transmitters. In one example in accordance with this embodiment, six transmitters are used: one in the center/bottom of each shoe, one on the center/back of each hand (e.g., within gloves), and two in the helmet—one in front and one in back. In one embodiment, these transmitters transmit two pieces of information: their own designation and the current time, by means of a psuedorandom time interval signal similar to that found in GPS satellites, as is known in the art. The designation of each transmitter includes appropriate player identification information and the transmitter's position on the player (e.g., Bears #39, right hand).
In one embodiment, masts for collection of data transmitted by the transmitters (also referred to interchangeably herein as “receivers”) are mounted at several positions around the stadium, or other three-dimensional area of interest, at varying heights. In one embodiment, each transmitter is matched with a set of 12 collection arrays. Less masts are used in other embodiments to reduce data collection, or are otherwise varied in number for particular applications (e.g., additional masts used so as to provide an increased degree of accuracy). In other embodiments, less than a collection array for each transmitter is used for similar reasons. In the particular embodiment being described, 12 collection arrays are used for redundancy and more precision than the minimum that may actually be needed for operation.
The time differential of signal reception among masts allows calculation by triangulation of the position of any player at any given time, in a similar manner, as is known in the art, to the way a GPS hand unit calculates its position on the earth. One difference between the GPS hand unit technique of the prior art and the present invention is that in GPS, multiple transmissions are generated from multiple satellites, which, when received by an individual hand unit, can be analyzed to provide the unit's position, while the present invention uses the reverse of this approach. In particular, with the present invention, since the three-dimensional space at issue is confined with regard to, for example, the enclosed sporting event (e.g., all action taking place in a limited arena or stadium), lower power transmitters can be used, and the signal is received by multiple receptors. The receptors then use what is essentially the same type of information (e.g., travel time of signal from transmitter Y to position X yields distance from Y to X, and, likewise, the distance from Y to Z, Y to A, etc., where Y is a transmitter and the other variables are receivers) to triangulate each transmitter's position, and thus the corresponding moving object's location (e.g., the position of a hand). This system is used to track every transmitter position on the field (e.g., each of the transmitters associated with each of the players, as well as those of the ball and other moving objects).
The parameters of the field of play are also calculable and trackable via use of transmitters. Alternatively, the positions of the relevant locations in the area of play may be predetermined or otherwise known, for example, relative to the receiver locations. In one embodiment, transmitters are placed at appropriate points for a given application (e.g., at the four corners of a field, at the intersection of the boundary markers and each lateral side of the goal line, at the intersection of each yard marker and the goal line). By tracking the static position of the field with points that can be connected to form lines, and by combining this information with the dynamic positions for player and ball movements (which, for example, may be collected as a series of snapshots, as described further below), tracking of the position of any transmitter or group of transmitters on the field and the relative position of any transmitter or group of transmitters to any other transmitter or group of transmitters provides sufficient data to allow easy calculations and determinations to be made for use, for example, in computer modeling or other software.
In addition, among other things, the shoe size and hand thickness of each player are known and inputtable into the system, allowing additional simple rule calculations to be made. For example, if a player's shoe is four inches wide, and the player's foot connects with the plane of the field less than two inches to the line demarcated by the out of bounds line, the computer can easily calculate the “at least” part of the player's shoe is out of bounds on a particular play (e.g., given that the transmitter is located, for example, in the center of a shoe having known parameters).
Further, for example, if a player's hand transmitters are on either side of the spheroid described by the points of the ball's transmitters, then the ball is known to be under the control of that player. The present invention may similarly be applied to many other examples of play and use of this type. Each of these examples can be used, for example, to generate decision rules for computer modeling of the game.
In an embodiment of the present invention, positional data is collected at some suitable time interval, such as every 1/10 of a second. Each data point generated in this manner produces a quantity in a field, for example, in a relational database keyed to a particular transmitter of a particular player for a particular game. The points of data collected in this manner, when associated with each other and other data, are usable, for example, to model the player's and ball's movements. This data is also usable, for example, for analysis of player positions, for statistical computer modeling and analysis of team play, and for the prediction of the outcome of future competitions of rival teams. The data can also be broadcast to computer programs capable of generating real time models of games (e.g., computer simulations of games). This data is also usable for other purposes, such as to statistically model team and individual play for the purpose of creating very realistic computer games.
Some aspects of data management for the present invention have been described or are inferrable by those skilled in the art from above description of data collection. In one embodiment of the present invention, data points are stored in a relational database using, for example, multiple variations of Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks (RAID), for example, for purposes of redundancy and to enhance speed of storage and access. Since the data is vector data in this example, the amount of data collected is small for the number of applications that can use the data.
As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, there are many potential uses for the technology of the present invention. The above process has been described using football as an example; however, the invention could clearly be used to monitor and collect data for a large variety of sports and other activities.
In an embodiment of the present invention, data is generated at a rate determined by the user. Positional data is broadcast continuously or in pulses by the sensors mounted in, for example, the football or a particular player's shoes. An array of sensors picks up these pulses and determines where they are located using triangulation techniques known in several fields, among them global positioning and radio triangulation. At a time increment determined by the user, such as every 1/10 of a second, the instruments performing the triangulation generate an entry under the appropriate record or field of a database, for example, the football field or record. The entry includes the position, in terms, for example, of X, Y, Z cartesian coordinates, as determined by the sensors at the time of the reading. In one embodiment, the entry has an associated time of reading for the position.
A database collection of such information can be used by those skilled in the art as a resource for many types of modeling. For example, a simple and obvious use of such data would be to build a computer simulation of player and ball movements. When a programmer designs a graphic representation of a football player, it may be necessary to first design the 2-D rendering of the 3-D player. If this representation is to be made to appear to move, it is necessary to provide data that instructs the model as to how and where it should move. Positional data of each limb, for example, must be specified incrementally so that, for example, if the player is intended to appear to be running, each limb will move in a fluid motion similar to that of a real life moving player.
Once a model of a player is rendered and the computer is programmed in such a way that it can automatically reference a pattern of movement that a player model should exhibit during an action such as running, the present invention is able to cause the model of the player to appear to run in place. Adding a background and elements to indicate a sense of distance, in conjunction with relative player location in the area of play, make it possible to make the model appear to move from point A to point B within the modeled area of play.
In one embodiment of the present invention, currently programmed models known in the art can be used, but rather than, for example, re-using a typical pattern of positional points to describe the movement of players' limbs superimposed on a background to simulate motion, actual positional data of each player's recorded movements are used to more accurately simulate movement on a field of play. When all the data available is used in conjunction with multiple player models and ball models, the present invention is able, by substituting the actual recorded data from a sporting event for the generic movement data generally used in such modeling, to very accurately and precisely simulate the game.
As has been demonstrated in a variety of currently available multi-player networked computer games, by using individual players' processing power to generate graphic simulations, bandwidth of a network can be greatly conserved, so that a realistic simulation of action can take place over a large network while only broadcasting relatively small amounts of data. Users of the above-described system are able, for example, to connect to a broadcasting site or central server via a network, such as the Internet, and receive player motion data in real time. This data is then used by modeling software on, for example, a computer or other processing device remote from the server to simulate accurately, in real time, a football game that the user otherwise would not be able to observe visually due to, for example, broadcast restrictions.
Once a large enough amount of data has been collected, statistical analysis of individual player or each player's movements can be performed to determine, for example, how a player might be most likely to react to a given situation on the field of play. Once this analysis has been performed, among other uses it is possible to simulate games that might never actually take place in the real world. For example, using previously collected data as a model, a player's typical reactions in given situations could be predicted in real time using a processor, and a new database of player motion data generated based on that prediction information.
Further, by causing several models with predictable patterns of behavior to engage interactively with each other in simulated conditions, entire games never possible in the real world could be played by a computer by continuously analyzing player data and iteratively generating new data based on the statistical predictions thus provided. Because the thus generated data sets could potentially be large, a high degree of predictivity of outcomes could be generated.
This type of modeling could also be used in a variety of other ways. For example, so-called fantasy football leagues could choose players—even players not currently playing, and simulate league play against each other over an entire simulated season. Participants could even watch the simulated games played out one by one by the computer if desired, and, for even more statistical accuracy, entire seasons could be modeled multiple times to get an average overall of the probable outcome for a given fantasy league.
Camera/Monitor Control Linked to Transmitted Data
In an embodiment of the present invention, cameras or other typically used directional items for recording sporting events, such as directional microphones, are optionally usable in conjunction with player and ball positional data to enhance recordation, to ease recording of the event, and for other purposes, such as to provide greater accuracy in determining play outcome. Since player and ball positional data are being tracked, in an embodiment of the present invention, computer controlled cameras or direction microphones, for example, placed about the stadium and controlled by controllers that are communication linked to the transmitters can be used to track any individual player's movements and sound, as well as those of the ball and/or other moving objects. This generates a second, reliable stream of data for human analysis in case of conflict (e.g., for instant replay verification of play outcome).
For example, current art already allows camera tracking of a transmitter if the camera position is known and the transmitter can be tracked. Using the above-described system, computer controlled cameras, mounted in the stands of a sporting event could automatically track the ball or a given player. By accessing the database that is being continuously updated by the positional data being broadcast by, for example, the players and ball, an automated camera having a known position relative to the field of play could be made to always point at, for example, the ball. Since the camera would “know” its own position relative to the field of play and would also have access to the positional data of the players and other moving objects (which would continuously update to provide each player's or the ball's relative positions on the field, for example), the camera is able, in accordance with use of triangulation and/or other methods known in the art, to be made to always point in the direction of a given player or the ball.
Player Identification and Commentator Assistance
In order more accurately to describe which players are involved in certain aspects of play at sporting events, sports commentators must have a thorough knowledge of every player's name and jersey number so that they can accurately describe events as the events take place on the field of play. At the pace at which sporting events currently take place, and because of the high number of players that may be potentially on the field, this can be difficult for a commentator to track, especially a commentator new to a given sport.
Since individual transmitters could be keyed to particular players in the above system, it is relatively easy to superimpose, for example, players' names above their heads on a viewing screen that follows and stays with players as they move in real or near-real time. For a commentator, this would mean that, for example, by watching a screen, they could always easily be able to tell which players were involved in particular plays or particular portions of plays during a game, without having to know or even being able to see a given player's jersey number.
For example, a computer or other processor and/or other devices known in the art, by accessing player positional data, could project, in the appropriate place, just that player's name onto a normal television screen that is also broadcasting the live image of the game. (It is obvious that, in order for this to work properly, the positions of the cameras being used to record the live image relative to the field of play would have to be known.)
This type of system would be useful in football but would also be particularly useful in basketball, where commentators must keep track of rapidly changing events and numerous passes and player substitutions. For example, by analyzing ball movements in real time, a computer or other processor could predict such things as whether a player was making a pass or taking a shot at the basket. When the ball has left a given player's hands, that player's superimposed name could flash or change color or other wise indicate that a pass had been made. The name could flash in a different sequence or change to a different color if a shot is made. When a second player takes possession of the ball (in the case of a pass, for example) that player's name could flash or change color to indicate that he or she had received the pass. If an opposing player took possession, a different color or flash pattern could be used to indicate a steal. By utilizing various aspects of the present invention, commentators with relatively little experience could thus very rapidly and accurately make commentary on a sporting event just by observing the superimposed images. In addition, a computer or other processor and associated devices could be used to simulate commentary without any human interaction.
Description of Figures
References will now be made in detail to embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
In one embodiment, the modeling software is capable of making or assisting with making rule decisions, such as whether or not a player's foot touched out of bounds, or whether the ball crossed the plane of the goal line while under a player's control. Data is optionally stored in the repository for future use.
In operation, as shown in
In one example using the modeling system of
Similar transmitters 10 may be located on or attached to each player and each other moving object in the sporting event. In one embodiment, each transmitter 10 is unique and broadcasts a unique signal. This feature allows any one transmitter 10 to be isolated from any other or group of others.
There are other ways to accomplish location determination, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. For example, the direction a transmitter is from a given receiver can be determined by signal strength. By knowing the direction of the transmitter relative to a number of receivers (as few as two), the position of the transmitter can be determined. With more than the minimum number of transmitters, an “average” of locations can be determined to more precisely locate the transmitter.
In the embodiment shown in
The data can also be made available, for example, for use by coaching staffs on the sidelines or otherwise. The data can be used to “fine tune” team and individual play. The data can also be used, for example, to model teams against one another for preparation for upcoming events. The data can further, for example, be made available to game companies or others, such as for use to accurately model team play in games.
For example, if a the dimensions of a player's shoe 50 are known, each point on the shoe 50 can be approximately determined relative to a transmitter 51 in the shoe 50. Similarly, as shown in
In another example, as shown in
Example embodiments of the present invention have now been described in accordance with the above advantages. It will be appreciated that these examples are merely illustrative of the invention. Many variations and modifications will be apparent to those skilled in the art.