Similar to a couple posts back( Humble Beginnings), I came up with another idea sitting in my anthropology 101 class, except this time I actually think it’s feasible.

Today in this class, I was learning about race and how the concept of race developed. In the lecture, my TA, Madi Whitman discussed how race used to be looked at strictly though a Western view and measured using mostly anthropometrics. But now modern anthropologists use a more logical and holistic view using different “measurements” such as linguistics, arts, dances.

This again made me think of the theme of the SSAC’17 Hackathon, “measuring the immeasurable.” In the same way the anthropologists were able to get a more holistic view of a concept by engaging different senses, I could also gain a more holistic view of professional basketball engaging different senses.

Humans have five main senses: touch, smell, taste, hear, see. Usually as sports fans we see and enjoy the game based on sight. Since sight is a very qualitative sense, it sometimes is difficult to measure what is going on in the game because multiple subjects are moving quickly simultaneously. Therefore, perhaps using a another one of the five senses that is more quantitative will help fans and coaching staff alike better analyze and form strategies to improve the sport.

My idea is based on the two stipulations:

  1. When an NBA team wins when the amount of time spent playing on the side they are trying to score on (for that half of the game) is greater than the amount of time spent playing on their opponent’s side it means:
  • Winning team is playing good defense and is able to keep the playing on their side
  • Winning team is taking their time to make good ball movement…also implies good chemistry between a team (within the bounds of the shot clock)
  • Winning team is getting more opportunity to score
  • Winning team knows how to draw fouls and is sent to the free throw line often (time is also stopped in these moments)

2. When an NBA team wins when the amount of time spent playing on the side they are trying to defend on (for that half of the game) is greater than the amount of time spent playing on their opponent’s side it means:

  • Winning team is young and fast and makes a lot of fast breaks
  • Winning team is making reasonable fouls on shots/the loosing team has a low free throw percentage


In order to calculate how much “time” is spent on which side of the court, I thought using thermal imaging/infrared technology could help quantitatively make decisions, instead of  using sight to qualitatively draw conclusions, based on those stipulations.

The reason I came up with the idea to use a form of energy to calculate and quantify the game of basketball is based on two things:

  1. In  my thermodynamics class, I learned that when there is work there is also usually a heat transfer, that’s why there is radiation off human body as it does work, and tries to maintain equilibrium. Therefore more work=more heat transfer= higher temperature
  2. In my computing in Industrial Engineering class, our professor (Professor Mario Ventresca) gave an example of how certain cloud computing technologies find the optimal route from point A to point B using the most cost-efficient combinations of transportation. He talked about how instead of using brute force to find the optimal route by making all the cost calculations, the energy it takes for the computing system to find the cost of each combination was quantified first. Then, these energies are ranked and the route that takes the least amount of energy to calculate is the optimal and most cost-effective route.

Now the most important question, that usually kills most of my ideas is feasibility…

Fortunately, my very own best friend Arpitha Gadag spent two summers as a junior an senior in high school working on projects with infrared technology with Purdue professors. She had actually taken the device on the football field before to use it observe and learn how the infrared device indicates relative heat. One limitation she pointed out to me about the infrared technology she was using, was that the lighting of the area needs to be controlled in order to have comparable data points.

I believe using this technology in an indoor basketball court will be easier than trying to control the lights outside on a football field.

Arpitha gave me the name and the email of the professor, who is an expert in infrared technology and I will be emailing her ASAP since I’m less than four weeks away from the hackathon. I hope to learn how to use the infrared technology camera, use it to collect data, and create a usable app that takes the input of that infrared camera. This will  hopefully help fans and sport analysts alike gather more quality quantitative statistics to make informed decisions.