Patriots, Giants Use Video Technology To Prepare For Super Bowl - InformationWeek
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Patriots, Giants Use Video Technology To Prepare For Super Bowl

XOS's Coach's Command Station is used by all NFL teams to study video of their opponents and plan for various scenarios they're likely to face on the field.

Consider this scene at Sunday's Super Bowl: The New England Patriots have the ball on the 30-yard line. It's third down and 5 yards to go.

What should the Patriots do to get a first down, and what should the New York Giants do to stop them? The coaching staffs of both teams know exactly what to do in the situation -- and in virtually all scenarios -- because all week they have been studying each others' moves on a LAN-based video system developed by XOS Technologies.

"For instance, the teams may know that after a third down run and a gain of 5 yards, 70% of the time, the Patriots will pass," said Ray Thompson, XOS's VP of marketing, in an interview. Playing the percentages, the Giants defensive is likely to plan for a pass from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

XOS's Coach's Command Station is used by all NFL teams as they increasingly adopt high-tech systems to give them an edge. "With my laptop, I am able to analyze video and game data whenever and wherever I want," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said recently, "and then communicate with the staff and players on our network."

NFL teams send each other videos of recent games, which are broken up into offensive and defensive scenarios by the teams. XOS sent a team of technicians to Arizona several days before the game to set up a LAN for each team so coaching staff and players can run virtually all possible scenarios the teams are likely to face on the field.

"They make their own edits to pick up tendencies," said Thompson. "The coaches can then share the data from their desks. Belichick and [Giants coach] Tom Coughlin can drill down into the data. The great thing about being on a network is that you can share relevant data easily."

XOS, which has developed several programs for football and other sports teams, utilizes 28 servers in its network. Using software written in C by a team of programmers and an Oracle database application, their users typically access the information on laptops. Thompson noted that every year XOS delivers updates to the system, which operates under an umbrella of sports programs it calls Facilities Design and Integration.

What's next?

Top college team LSU offers a view of the future. Last year LSU began using a system called PlayAction Simulator, developed jointly by XOS and EA Sports. The system builds on EA's popular Madden NFL and NCAA football video games, which typically have been used by football players for years. "We took the Madden game engine" and modified it, said Thompson. "Teams and players can create their own digital playbooks and diagram plays. For instance, they can run their offense against Madden in a virtual football world."

Using PlayStation-emulating controllers, users move through different offenses and defenses. The simulator suddenly becomes a learning tool rather than a game, although it helps that players and coaches usually have played the Madden game. Coaches at LSU and Tennessee, where it has also been used, have had high praise for the simulator, because it helps prepare their respective teams for games.

XOS has had a circuitous history. Much of its technology was spun out of video pioneering company Avid Technology. The company also traces its origins to a program that founder Dan Aton developed for the Orlando Magic basketball team.

The football programs have been working their way into Division One AAA and Division One AA teams, and Thomson, looking into the future, sees some products appealing to small college teams and eventually to high school athletic teams.

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