A few weeks ago we talked about adidas' 'Smart Soccer' system and the potential for real data analysis. We then saw it in action during the MLS All-Star game... and got a semi-working product that provided the public with roughly no useful information. Top speed? Time spend running? Who cares?
So that was all pretty disappointing. Time to get excited about something else, though! My friend Kyle Elliot has dug up some interesting new patents filed by Nike as part of the Nike+ Football system, which seem to go far beyond anything adidas has shown us so far. I won't steal Kyle's thunder -- head on over to footy-boots.com if you want the gory details -- but it looks like a three-part system that can track player movement, boot movement and ball movement. That means we can play with things like shot speed data, distance from foot to control during dribbles, measuring first touch and all sorts of incredible things.
Frankly, this is amazing, and if Nike can pull it off it'll be extremely impressive. The only problem with this sort of system is the fierce competition between boot manufacturers. Unless manufacturers agree to data standards (they won't), we're going to have to sift through a confused, incompatible mess of monitoring devices to get anything holistic out of these advances. Won't that be fun?