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LiDAR Development: A Difference Maker for U.S. Sports

Although some previous iterations of LiDAR-based performance-tracking systems were somewhat unwieldy, lacked ideal range and were prohibitively expensive, the technology has reached a tipping point – in large part due to the recent all-in investments of automakers. Rapid improvements are on the horizon for LiDAR-based tracking tech, which should translate to improved resolution, higher ranges, ability to function in any setting (indoor, outdoor, small or large venues), smaller units and lower costs. Affordable, next-generation LiDAR tracking tech stands to make all previous legacy systems virtually obsolete.


In light of a reported 1.2 million traffic-related deaths per year, the stakes for autonomous driving are obviously considerably higher than those in the athletics industry. Still, there are notable parallels. For autonomous vehicles, the speed and location of other cars, cyclists and pedestrians can’t be guesstimated. AD technology must be dynamic, in-the-round, comprehensive and wholly reliable under a variety of conditions. The risks for sports organizations are, of course, far different. Yet the acceptable margin of error for, say, an NFL or NBA club is similar. Measuring a cornerback’s quickness out of his break or a ballhandler’s ability to maintain speed on an arcing drive to the basket are mission critical.


In the U.S., where multiple sports and leagues feature players earning tens of millions of dollars annually, and where a coach is more likely to trust his instincts than an imperfect technology, LiDAR can help bridge the knowledge gap. Mistakes in judgment that cascade throughout an organization, across multiple seasons, potentially wasting great amounts of resources and altering the livelihoods of staff and personnel, can be avoided. With organizations more attuned than ever to load management, prehab and granular player-evaluation details, LiDAR – poised to set new standards in data accuracy and reliability – is the future of player tracking in the U.S. and beyond.

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