The NFL And Amazon Want To Transform Player Health Through Machine Learning – Forbes
The NFL and Amazon announced an expansion of their partnership at their annual AWS re:Invent … [+]
Injury prevention in sports is one of the most important issues facing a number of leagues. This is particularly true in the NFL, due to the brutal nature of that punishing sport, which leaves many players sidelined at some point during the season. A number of startups are utilizing technology to address football injury issues, specifically limiting the incidence of concussions. Now, one of the largest companies in the world is working with the league in these efforts.
A week after partnering with the Seattle Seahawks on its machine learning/artificial intelligence offerings, Amazon announced a partnership Thursday in which the technology giant will use those same tools to combat football injuries. Amazon has been involved with the league, with its Next Gen Stats partnership, and now the two companies will work to advance player health and safety as the sport moves forward after its 100th season this year. Amazon’s AWS cloud services will use its software to gather and analyze large volumes of player health data and scan video images with the objective of helping teams treat injuries and rehabilitate players more effectively. The larger goal will be to create a new “Digital Athlete” platform to anticipate injury before it even takes place.
This partnership expands the quickly growing relationship between the NFL and Amazon/AWS. as the two have already teamed up for two years with the league’s Thursday Night Football games streamed on the company’s Amazon Prime Video platform. Amazon paid $130 million for rights that run through next season. The league also uses AWS’s ML Solutions Lab,as well as Amazon’s SageMaker platform, that enables data scientists and developers to build and develop machine learning models that can also lead to the league’s ultimate goal of predicting and limiting player injury.
“The NFL is committed to re-imagining the future of football,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “When we apply next-generation technology to advance player health and safety, everyone wins – from players to clubs to fans. The outcomes of our collaboration with AWS – and what we will learn about the human body and how injuries happen – could reach far beyond football. As we look ahead to our next 100 seasons, we’re proud to partner with AWS in that endeavor.”
The new initiative was announced as part of Amazon’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas on Thursday. Among the technologies that AWS and the league announced in its “Digital Athlete” platform is a computer-simulated model of an NFL player that will model infinite scenarios within NFL gameplay in order to identify a game environment that limits the risk to a player. Digital Athlete uses Amazon’s full arsenal of technologies, including the AI, ML and computer vision technology that is used with Amazon’s Rekognition tool and that uses enormous data sets encompassing historical and more modern video to identify a wide variety of solutions, including the prediction of player injury.
“By leveraging the breadth and depth of AWS services, the NFL is growing its leadership position in driving innovation and improvements in health and player safety, which is good news not only for NFL players but also for athletes everywhere,” said Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS. “This partnership represents an opportunity for the NFL and AWS to develop new approaches and advanced tools to prevent injury, both in and potentially beyond football.”
These announcements come at a time when more NFL players are utilizing their large platforms to bring awareness to injuries and the enormous impact those injuries have on their bodies. Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been one of the most productive NFL players at his position in league history but he had to retire from the league this year, at the age of 29, due to a rash of injuries.
The future Hall of Fame player estimated that he suffered “probably” 20 concussions in his football career. These admissions have significant consequences on youth participation rates in the sport. Partnerships like the one announced yesterday will need to be successful in order for the sport to remain on solid footing heading into the new decade.