January 23, 2013 By D. Craig MacCormack
We’ve all heard about the hard work that’s required to be a professional athlete. Well, the same is sometimes true for those who are trying to make the lives of these athletes a little bit easier through technology.
The New York Rangers are now in their second season at the decked-out Madison Square Garden Training Center, which features a dynamic and user-generated means to alert players and staff of key messages and statistical information related to the team’s daily schedule and activities, thanks to Savant Systems.
The project was a retrofit installation that included the addition of fiberoptic cable and a digital A/V system.
“It was a pretty aggressive schedule,” says Matt Frias, director of systems engineering for Savant, noting the project started in May and had a mid-June finish date. “There were some long days, so that was definitely a challenge. We were going into an environment that’s already done and there were people there, so that definitely adds to the pressure. We would go and work as long as we could.”
Inside The Installation
Although the project was done in the hockey offseason, some Rangers coaches were still in the training center and players came by to use the weight room and locker rooms, says Frias. The center featured “a lot of older technology,” so “we had to figure out what we could use.” In the end, that answer was, “not much.”
As part of the upgrade, which is highlighted by a switching messaging and media system controlled by Savant’s TrueControl app, Rangers management also wanted the ability to have team members play their own music throughout the weight and locker room facilities.
The TrueControl app transforms an iPad, iPod Touch and/or iPhone into a remote control for all electronics within a commercial environment. For the Rangers, this means management and players who have access to the system can control all of the audio, video, lighting, security, climate, messaging and any other subsystem or technology through one Apple device.
Scrolling text can now be displayed on all 12 HDTVs in the training facility, which allows management to tell the players when they have to get to the team bus, provide team updates or other pertinent information. RSS feeds are also available through the system to share NHL news, team stats and league standings.
Meanwhile, iPod generated music from three Savant Media Docks are located in the locker room’s equipment area and are controlled from an in-wall iPad as well as the lead trainer’s iPhone, all through Savant’s app.
NY Rangers general manager Glen Sather personally requested Savant for the job after the company installed automation systems for him at houses in New York and Canada.
Lessons Learned And New Opportunities
With three groups of end users – management, coaches and players – involved in the installation, Savant officials were somewhat nervous about satisfying all of them, but “it turned out better than everyone expected,” says Frias.
Since wrapping up the work for the Rangers, Savant has initiated similar projects for the Dallas Stars and University of Texas.