May 24, 2019
In the week that Great Britain made history at the IIHF World Championship, Nottingham Ice Hockey Club are installing the world’s most advanced automated sports production equipment at the National Ice Centre.
Controlled by artificial intelligence, and with a multi-camera system covering the entire ice rink, the technology is able to follow the flow of an ice hockey game and shoot High Definition TV-like footage without needing any people to do it.
Club development officer, Ryan Rathbone, researched the system and identified the opportunities it could bring to ice hockey.
“The technology that Pixellot uses is immense. It will mean that as players get older we can work more regularly on improving their game sense with visual feedback from the real situations they faced,” he said.
“The system can automatically create highlights packages, but coaches can also tag specific clips and share to mobile devices and web platforms for viewing. The multiple camera angles mean that the entire ice is covered at all times. We can look ‘off the play’ as well as see the person with the puck.”
Pixellot’s HQ is in Israel, but their system is used across the world. In North America, thousands of high schools broadcast their sport live using the system; major media partnerships in Latin America and Central Europe see amateur and semi-professional events broadcast every week; and in Asia, there are partnerships with some of the continent’s most renowned technology brands.
Nottingham’s investment runs to a five-figure sum over the coming years and it is the first UK organisation involved in ice hockey to work with Pixellot technology.
In early 2018, the Club wrote an ambitious development plan. It involved better promotion of the Club, increasing participation levels and keeping fees manageable for its members. Fostering player enjoyment and opportunity were at the heart of it all.
Adrian Wright who helped put the plan together explained: “All we have done is identify what the Club wanted to achieve and how it was going to do it. Finances and strategy are never going to be the most exciting part of ice hockey, but we now have budgets, management accounts and meetings to track membership numbers, projects and priorities. These are all essential if hockey is to be properly supported.”
He added: “Things still go wrong from time to time, but in just over a year the Club has gone from finding it very hard to fund the most basic of needs to now having money to invest in player development. We are only just starting to unlock what is possible when there is a clear plan to follow.”
“The new Committee have been really supportive all the way through,” he said.
“I now have players able to train two to three times a week at no extra cost. Membership fees for 2019/20 are being held for a second year running and the Club regularly puts on extra in-house sessions for its age groups.
“And now, to top it all, we have a state of the art camera system that means we can live-stream games and analyse replays for coaching purposes.”
Wright concluded: “Partnerships were identified as a key area for developing the Club. We are really grateful to the National Ice Centre for allowing us to house this equipment at the Olympic rink. They have been so supportive in helping us move forward.”
Charlie Prichard, Pixellot’s UK Business Development director, added: “We are delighted to be working with Nottingham Ice Hockey Club at the National Ice Centre. It is fantastic to be recognised for the support that we can offer coaches to grow and develop the UK’s young ice hockey talent, in addition to providing the ability to broadcast any match live to the viewing public. Pixellot’s global expansion has been remarkable, and to have Nottingham Ice Hockey Club be a key part in our story as we enter the UK is something we are both proud of and excited by.”
Testing of the system will be done through the summer with the aim of having everything operational by the beginning of 2019/20 season.
Learn more about the Pixellot system at www.pixellot.tv, or by contacting Charlie Prichard on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nottingham IHC supports young people to get involved with the world’s fastest team sport. If you are interested to know more, email email@example.com or visit their website www.nihc.co.uk