Technology can unquestionably make watching football better just consider the computer-generated first-down line projected on TV screens that make it all the more clear whether it’s time to move the sticks. Good or bad, technology bent on making the game better, fairer or more fun will continue to emerge as science tries to address professed shortcomings. Here is a sample of some things in production, being developed or in early stages of research that could alter the face of the game.
Goal Line Technology System from Cairos Technologies
When it’s fourth and one and they decide to go for it, it’s often tough to figure out if the ball has crossed the goal line under the pile of offensive and defensive players. This German made product calls for goal-line sensors along the sidelines to pick up a signal generated by a half-ounce sensor inside the ball. This includes a gyroscope that measures the attitude of the ball in space, so sideline computers can figure out exactly when and whether any part of the ball crosses the line. In a split second it triggers a signal to devices on the wrists of the game officials.
Touch sensors in pads, gloves and other gear
Sensors deployed on players’ bodies can supply data that can be invaluable for training. For example, if a receiver is catching the ball on his pads, chest or forearms rather than his hands, the sensors will know. Players and
coaches can use the data to tailor drills that will get him to use his hands properly instead. It can even tell how much the receiver relies on his fingers vs. his thumbs. The gloves include a wristband transmitter to send the data they collect to sideline base stations.
Several technologies are converging to make helmets safer by minimizing the chances of concussions and of concussions going undetected. Accelerometers in helmets measure the impact and transmits it to computers on the sidelines that can send alerts if the impact crosses a set threshold. Total impact to individual players can be tracked throughout a game or even a career. Technology adapts the amount of compression helmet padding undergoes in order to gauge the magnitude and direction of the hit. The helmet has a shell made of separate sections to better absorb shock. The idea is to reduce the impact the head undergoes.
Beyond being five times stronger than steel, Kevlar is a good shock absorber, too. The company makes insoles out of it to absorb the shock of running in cleats on artificial turf, but is expanding into football pads that do a better job of protecting players from crushing hits. The NFL is considering mandatory thigh and knee pads that players sometimes abandon in order to gain speed and mobility at the expense of injury.
Genetic tests that indicate football physiology
Researchers at DNA laboratory Advanced Health Care say tests for variants of a gene called ACTN3 can show whether people have muscle characteristics that can make them better football players. The lab says people without a variant that blocks production of the muscle protein alpha-actinin-3 are more likely to have muscles suited for sprinting and power football. If they have one copy of the variant, they’re suited for mixed endurance-power sports like soccer. If they have two copies, they’re best suited for endurance. Figuring this out early can help find young athletes with the best prospects for success on the gridiron.
Biological joint replacement
In any match football players’ careers can end, often as the result of devastating knee injuries. Now researchers are coming up with ways to regenerate joints using cartilage grown outside the body with the help of stem cells and then implanted to make repairs. Rather than fix just the damaged sections of cartilage something that can be done now new techniques grow enough to replace all the cartilage in a damaged joint. So far, it hasn’t been tried in humans, but it holds possibilities to lengthen football careers.
Written by Shilpa Dubey