You only need to look back over the last decade to see how much the world of sport has changed in relation to how and where technology gets used. Whether it’s in performance analysis both on and off the field, how fans engage when events or how the game is monitored, you’re sure to find some form of new smart tech.
Here, we’ve taken a look at a few recent examples both within specific sports and on a more general level, and have considered the impact the different technologies have had so far.
‘Smart Stadiums’ and fan engagement
A number of new innovations have started to make their way into the experience fans can get at venues. From the use of AR to provide additional analysis and insights via apps, devices and headsets, to drones delivering snacks and even contactless ticket payments on turnstiles, the way we engage and interact with the games we watch is evolving.
‘Smart Balls’ in rugby union
While we have many analysis tools around different games as they’re being played, a new analysis technology was unveiled at the recent rugby union Six Nations Championship.
Dubbed the ‘Gilbert Smart Ball’ the rugby ball itself has been fitted with a GPS microchip, which according to Gov.uk, can ‘provide insights and data in real time as the game is in progress…the smart ball can collect interesting data on distance and the amount of territory gained during a game’ as well as ‘live in-depth analysis to the millions of viewers watching from pitch side or via broadcast footage and on social media’.
Additional VAR in soccer
The ‘Video Assistant Referee’ or ‘VAR’ in soccer has been widely used across the world now in many soccer tournaments, with the intention of helping make any contentious decisions (e.g. goals or offsides) fairer and more accurate.
However, at the recent World Cup in Qatar, FIFA added to this with a new ‘semi-automated offside technology’ which uses ‘12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of the stadium to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player, 50 times per second, calculating their exact position on the pitch’.
The results of how beneficial this was at the tournament remain unknown thus far, but if it proves to be a success following trials at other soccer events, it’s likely it will be adopted elsewhere (possibly in other similar sports) – with the aim of bringing faster, fairer decisions that cause less debate and disruption.
VR and AR in tennis and American football
In a similar vein to the augmented stadium experiences, VR and AR are also used with performance analysis and training. A couple of notable examples include VR motion tech being used in tennis to assess the biomechanics of players as they move about the court to then suggest improvements. Similarly, in the NFL AR is used to playback and simulate different training moves and plays to again see where these can be changed and improved.