The NFL, in collaboration with the University of Miami and Amazon Web Services (AWS), announced the winners of 1st and Future, the NFL's annual Super Bowl pitch competition designed to spur innovation in player health, safety and performance.
Ahead of the event, all three finalists in the NFL 1st and Future Analytics Competition received $25,000. The winning team, Ben Jenkins and Steve Jenkins from Denver, received two tickets to Super Bowl LIV. Ben and Steve completed an analysis of NFL data to help uncover factors that contribute to lower limb injuries. This includes advanced machine learning techniques and new visualizations of characterizing player movement.
Protect3d from Durham, North Carolina, took the top prize among the four finalists in the Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety Competition and was awarded two Super Bowl LIV tickets and $50,000 for its innovation, which leverages 3D scanning and printing technologies to give medical professionals the ability to create anatomically-precise protective devices, each intended to be optimized for an individual athlete's comfort, mobility and protection.
Second-place winner Plantiga was awarded two Super Bowl LIV tickets and $25,000 for its technology, which combines sensor insoles and artificial intelligence that analyze how people move to improve health, injury rehabilitation and performance.
The live pitch competition took place at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Dan Hellie of NFL Network emceed as the seven finalists pitched their technologies and data analyses to an audience of NFL team owners and executives and representatives and guests of the University of Miami and AWS.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, VP of the Amazon ML Solutions Lab Michelle Lee, and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin participated in a panel discussion on player health and safety innovation.
"We think we can take the model that helped us reduce concussions so dramatically and apply it to the lower extremity injuries and have hopefully similar results," said Goodell. "And that would be dramatic obviously for the health and safety of our players but also for the game. It allows the players to be healthier, play more and play at a higher level, which is what they want."
"We were impressed by all of the finalists' pitches today and are excited to be crowdsourcing creative thinking from the entrepreneurial and data science communities," said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President, Health and Safety Innovation. "We'll take this forward to the NFL Scouting Combine as we meet with medical committees and the Competition Committee and discuss new and innovative ways to evolve the game."
Participants faced off in front of two panels of judges that included:
Elijah Hall – Seattle
Elijah's analysis found synthetic fields combined with velocity in zigzag movement patterns introduce a significant increase of risk to lower limb non-contact injuries.
Ben Jenkins and Steve Jenkins – Denver
Ben and Steve completed an analysis of NFL data to help uncover factors that contribute to lower limb injuries. This includes advanced machine learning techniques and new visualizations of characterizing player movement.
John Miller – Fort Worth, Texas
John created a model that shows the effects of player acceleration, turf type, and weather conditions on lower-body injuries.
Nextiles – Brooklyn, New York
Nextiles builds fabric-based sensors that when sewn into the interior padding of helmets can locate, triangulate and measure forces impacted on a player's head in order to quantify the factors that contribute to concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
Physmodo – Dallas
Using its proprietary human tracking skeleton developed specifically for biomechanics, Physmodo assesses movement patterns through an objective, automated screen in under 30 seconds.
Plantiga, Vancouver, British Columbia
Plantiga combines sensor insoles and artificial intelligence that analyze how people move to improve health, injury rehabilitation and performance.
Protect3d, Durham, North Carolina
Protect3d leverages 3D scanning and printing technologies to give medical professionals the ability to create anatomically-precise protective devices, each optimized for an individual athlete's comfort, mobility and protection.