PLAAY Sports’ Athlete Recognition Technology Simplifies Highlight Reels

In one very well-known scene from “The Blind Side,” after high-school Michael Oher blocks a defender over a fence, his adoptive brother, S.J., sends CDs of the highlight play to college football coaches across the country.

What the film doesn’t show is that S.J. likely had to go through hours of video to find that play and copy it to those CDs. That’s the problem PLAAY Sports is poised to solve.

Amateur sports, especially on the high school level, are popular locally but don’t get much attention on programs like ESPN’s SportsCenter. So it’s up to fans and parents to film games for family memories or, like in Oher’s case, for recruiting videos. Chris Ricciardi, CEO of PLAAY Sports, recognized this issue while he was working with his kids to help get them recruited for collegiate lacrosse.

“We specifically had to address the problem that they get all this video from tournaments, and they have to put together a two- to three-minute highlight video to send to coaches,” Ricciardi said. “Literally every season they’re plowing through 12-15 hours of video to get two to three minutes.”

Instead of athletes or fans sifting through hours of video to find those couple of standout plays, PLAAY allows them to input a player’s name and number to see only clips of the game with that player on the field. Using computer vision — for which PLAAY Sports has a patent — and the app detects the player’s uniform number from the footage by matching it with game information users enter into the app. App users can then select the clips they want and discard the rest.

The automated editing process also allows for video from various camera angles, according to COO Tyler Batesko. Effectively, fans can crowdsource video of the game from different areas of the field, and users can then view clips of a certain player from a number of different perspectives. Videos can be taken within the app or uploaded from the phone’s camera, a different camera, and even a GoPro.

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The app, which was launched in May and has around 2,000 users, according to Ricciardi, also contains a significant social component. Users can like clips of players they’re following, share on social media, and download to their devices. Though the app is free, users must buy credits to download and/or share clips externally.

“One of the key features is that if I go in and like a video clip, something that’s good from someone I’m following, it immediately becomes part of this ecosystem for the “Top PLAAYs” which starts at the local game level, and then as more and more people like it and view it, it goes up the pyramid,” Ricciardi said.

That’s a hefty set of capabilities for the fan-centric app. For serious recruits, PLAAY Sports offers a subscription-based desktop version that makes it easier for those recruits to create their highlight videos to send to college coaches. Several lacrosse recruits have already benefitted from the app, and others are using the app now to get a head start on the fall recruiting season.

Currently, PLAAY Sports works for basketball and lacrosse, but will eventually expand to all team sports that allow numbered uniforms, including an upcoming launch for hockey. It’s available on the App Store.

Appeared originally in: Publication, June 29th, 2017