NFL eyes robots as it splashes cash on tech startups

As the league continues to grow more and more each year, the NFL continues to explore new ways to not only improve the quality of play on the field, but the quality of how things are conducted off the field as well. With the league’s recent emphasis on player safety, anything presented to them in relation to this topic is likely going to pique the NFL’s interest much more than any other subject these days.

Recently, the league held their second annual 1st and Future competition, which pits various startup companies against each other in an effort to win $50,000 in cash (yes, straight cash homie as Randy Moss used to say).

Of the nine startup companies that were named finalists in this competition, the inventions that were pitched ranged from a sensor to detect a player’s hydration levels, protective headgear to reduce the risk of head injuries, and a device to help better train a player’s neck muscles.

Just a couple of robotic tackling dummies, no big deal. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Just a couple of robotic tackling dummies, no big deal. (Photo Source: Twitter)

In the end, three companies each came away with the $50,000 cash prize after their inventions were selected as the best in their specific category. The three categories in which a company could qualify for were Communicating with the Athlete, Materials to Protect the Athlete, and Training the Athlete.

Obviously, these are areas in which the league would like to improve upon the most and events like this are great ways to incorporate ideas from those outside of the NFL.

The first company that was awarded the best idea in the category for Communicating with an Athlete was an organization known as GoRout. Their invention is one that allows coaches to send diagrams of play calls to their players with the help of a wearable device.

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In the category for Materials to Protect the Athlete, a company by the name of Windpact was declared the winner for their invention of a padding that is supposed to help reduce the impact of hits to the head when worn on the inside of a helmet.

The last company to leave the event with a cash prize was Mobile Virtual Player and their robotic tackling dummies that allow players to practice various techniques with a much greater reduction in their chance of injury.

Hopefully, the NFL continues to put on this competition each year as it produces a number of great ideas that could become useful for the league at some point in time.