Fox’s ‘Glow Puck’ was the original sports IoT application

Larry Bellehumeur, M2M / IoT Consultant, Novotech

As a Canadian, hockey is pretty much in your blood, says Larry Bellehumeur of Novotech. Although I don’t follow the National Hockey League (NHL) that closely (I am more of a baseball and NFL fan), I have no issues “following” the game.

We are well versed on the strategy, the rules and how to follow the puck while it zips around the ice at rocket speeds.

Fox Sports wasn’t so sure that Americans would do the same. Their theory was that most newcomers to the game would have issues following the puck, despite the fact that it is a dark black puck on bright white ice and the fact that most fans have no problems following a football or baseball on TV.

So, back in the 90s, Fox went all “IoT” on the puck. The puck was cut in half and some high-tech transmitters and sensors were attached to the puck and it was reassembled. A lot of care was taken to ensure that there was no difference in weight/balance on the modified puck. Around the rink, 20 detectors and 10 infrared emitters picked up the signal from the puck as it flew around the ice.

Here is a FoxTrax puck (left, as is / right shows the puck cut in half):


The result? Fox was able to track the puck around the ice and super-impose a blue glow over it. The theory was that it would be easier to see. They even added a cheesy red “tail” to the puck when the speed exceeded 70mph, which it usually does on most shots on goal (see picture below).

Well, the puck was definitely controversial, to say the least. Newcomers to hockey seemed to be in favour of it, as it made it easier to see the puck, while experienced viewers found it annoying. In the end, the puck lasted a total of two years before it went away.

You be the judge – here is what the FoxTrax puck, sometimes referred to as Glow Puck, looked like when shot:


The bottom line

As a seasoned hockey viewer, you are probably assuming that I hated the FoxTrax glow, and mostly you are right. It was annoying. However, I think that the concept was way ahead of its time, and like noted hockey analyst Don Cherry said, it was great to see Fox investing in technology that was intended to help the sport, even if it wasn’t the best result.

As someone in the IoT world, I fully appreciate what Fox was trying to do, and I think we can thank much of the cool IoT tools used in today’s broadcasts, at least in part, to what was learned by FoxTrax. Hats off to Fox for taking a chance on FoxTrax!

The author of this blog is Larry Bellehumeur, M2M / IoT Consultant, Novotech Technologies.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow OR @jcIoTnow


9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

World Economic Forum launches toolbox of solutions to accelerate decarbonisation in cities

Posted on: September 23, 2021

With the percentage of people living in cities projected to rise to 68% by 2050, resulting in high energy consumption, greater infrastructure needs and, carbon emissions, cities have a critical role to play in the race to reach net zero. To help address this challenge, the World Economic Forum, is releasing iteration of its Toolbox of Solutions,

Read more

Laserfiche announces launch of cloud document management and process automation solution

Posted on: September 23, 2021

Laserfiche announced the availability of Laserfiche Cloud in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. The SaaS provider of intelligent content management and business process automation’s cloud offering delivers an innovative and trusted system for securely managing content and automating business processes across the enterprise.

Read more