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Building a digital athlete: Using AI to rewrite the playbook on NFL player safety

The NFL kicked off the Digital Athlete to help teams improve how they gathered information about and analyzed injury—a process that was previously siloed and time consuming. After conducting a roadshow to find the right partner to build the technology, the league ultimately teamed with AWS.

“AWS was the obvious choice given its best-in-class cloud technology capabilities and its unmatched ability to collect and make sense of large amounts of data,” says Jennifer Langton, senior vice president of health and safety innovation at the NFL. “We are proud to work closely with AWS on technology that is transforming how NFL teams are approaching player health and safety.”

Player data: A full picture from the field to the cloud

To build a complete view of players’ experience, the Digital Athlete gathers data from a range of sources, including game day data from the Next Generation Stats System (NGS), which uses AWS to capture real-time location, speed, and acceleration data for every player, on every play, on every inch of the field.

It also draws data from video filmed during games and practices along with sensors around the stadium that record performance metrics from tracking devices embedded in players’ equipment. AWS captures and combines player tracking data with other variables like weather, equipment, and play type (e.g., run, punt, etc.) for a dataset that represents a top-down picture of the player experience throughout the game.

The Digital Athlete’s AI- and ML-backed algorithms use these inputs to run millions of simulations of NFL games and specific in-game scenarios to inform teams which players are at the highest risk, insights that inform the development of personalized injury prevention, training, and recovery programs.

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Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.
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