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The Visible Value Blog

Visibility Behind the Scenes: Zebra's Role in Jason Bourne

Posted by Jeff Schmitz

August 5, 2016 at 11:19 AM


It’s a routine Zebra VP of Location Solutions, Jill Stelfox knows well. Board the flight, take your seat, put your headphones on, check email and catch-up on tasks. She travels extensively in her role.  Last fall, she wore her Zebra Sports logo gear on a flight to San Jose headed to a Thursday night NFL game. Jill wasn’t looking for conversation on the flight, but when an interested football fan sat next to her, the Zebra logo gear prompted an intriguing conversation.

Being a huge 49ers fan and fantasy football junkie, he loves the NFL’s “Next Gen Stats” and knew Zebra was the force behind it.  As the conversation continued, Jill learned she was talking with one of Hollywood’s most famous set decorators, Scott Bobbitt.  He and his brother have worked on dozens of hit movies including Ocean’s Eleven, the Bourne movies, and many more. 

He was fascinated with the Zebra Sports Solution and invited Jill to stop by and see him during the 49ers game later that night. Scott was serving as an advisor to VirnetX and enjoying the game from the VirnetX seats. When she made her way to the suite, she brought some Zebra RFID tags along. You see, each NFL player has two Zebra RFID tags embedded in his shoulder pads that track speed, distance, acceleration, player orientation and change of directions on the field. The sensors on players track vital stats indoors and outdoors to within six inches.

This solution enables the NFL to gain real-time insight into the action happening on the field of play; it feeds what the NFL calls “Next Gen Stats”. Ultimately, the NFL looks for the same visibility into their teams and players as an industrial operations director wants within a warehouse. Both need a real-time understanding of where, when and how their teams and assets are moving around their respective environments.

Now that you have the download on the relevance of the RFID tags, let’s get back to our story. Fast forward a few months and Scott calls Jill to ask her to send him some Zebra RFID tags.  Bobbitt said he couldn’t share details as to why he needed some of them, but promised it could be a great opportunity. 

“If it all works out, I’ll let you know,” Jill remembers him saying. She had an inkling it involved a movie considering his line of work, but didn’t know much else.

A short time later, Scott called Jill again. “Ok, so, now I have to tell you because we’re at the point where we’re going to use your stuff,” Stelfox recalls. “This is for a Bourne movie. And Jason Bourne is back.”

The Bourne movies feature Jason Bourne, a CIA Assassin, suffering from memory loss, who tries to piece together his past. Zebra products will make an on-screen appearance in the fifth Bourne movie, the fourth of the series starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. 

For Jill, the Bourne experience has been eye-opening – especially since she planned to knockout some emails on the plane. Instead of that, she helped push Zebra into a major motion picture.

“A lot of us just get on the flights, put our headsets on and move on,” Stelfox said. “It’s a lesson I learned about being open to a conversation. You just never know.”

Check out the official Jason Bourne movie trailer >> 

Jeff Schmitz is Chief Marketing Officer at Zebra Technologies.

Topics: Location Solutions, North America, Sports Solutions, NFL, Zebra Sports