Finnish hockey team Oulun Kärpät, one of the most successful teams in the Finnish Ice Hockey League, has turned to RFID technology to gain better insight into player analytics.
Kuru Digital Creations, a Finnish company specializing in building analytics and electronic recording solutions for various team sports, has created a real-time, on-ice system called KURU seQuence that utilizes passive UHF RFID technology to track players during games.
The solution measures the ice time logged by each player with the help of a RFID tag attached to the player’s knee pads. The system measures average shift length, number of shift changes and total ice time. Coaches or other users of the system can perform various searches based on ice time and goals scored.
“With KURU seQuence we can actually see real-time information on the utilization of our players during games,” says Juha Junno, CEO of Oulun Kärpät. “The system brings professional benefits for coaching and also entertainment value for our fans.”
Reliable and real-time statistics on the game is one of the key enablers for developing high efficiency teams. However, until recently playing time has mostly been monitored and recorded manually. As a result, providing team management with accurate and timely information has often been a challenge.
The patent-pending solution includes the KURU seQuence software platform and customized RFID tags supplied by Confidex. The RFID reader devices and antennas used in the system were provided by Impinj.
Kuru Digital Creations evaluated various wireless technologies to find an optimal solution. One issue with other technologies was the size and weight of the wearable devices. In a high-speed game like ice hockey, the players are not willing to wear anything that might even slightly reduce their mobility during the game. Passive UHF RFID technology enables the tag to be small and light while still offering a sufficient reading distance.
“Recent developments in the passive UHF RFID technology provide better performance,” says Antti-Pekka Tauriainen, product manager at Kuru Digital Creations. “Despite the extreme conditions present in ice hockey games, the seQuence RFID system has proven to work remarkably well.”