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February 3, 2017updated 06 Feb 2017 10:42am

How technology is disrupting the Super Bowl, RBS 6 Nations rugby & the Premier League

From clearing up controversial moments to improving fan engagement, technology is starting to dominate sports.

By James Nunns

Technology is increasingly impacting every facet of our lives. From how we sleep, to driving, to eating, the way we work and the sports industry.

The adoption of technology in sports has produced a mixed bag of results and has often been implemented after a long struggle. You only need to look at the roll out of technology in the world of football to highlight the barriers that have been put in place to restrict its use.

While deploying technology on a large scale, for example across an entire league, has frequently been met with road blocks in certain sports, that hasn’t stopped individual teams and some more forward thinking sports from rolling out technology.

Often the use of technology in sports has been used to augment the fan experience, providing them with a greater and more in-depth experience as they enjoy their favourite sport. Technology has also been used to help clear up controversial moments and to forge a path into new content fields.

With the Super Bowl and the RBS 6 Nations due to kick off this weekend, CBR looks at how technology is going to help make them even greater events.

 

Super Bowl

This year it is Super Bowl LI, or 51, and it’ll be the New England Patriots taking on the Atlanta Falcons.

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Kick off will be at 23:30 on Sunday 5th, so expect there to be a few tired employees on the Monday morning.

The Super Bowl typically attracts one of the largest global audiences, Super Bowl 50 averaged 111.9 million TV viewers  and this year the FOX broadcast feed will feature innovations from Intel.

The chip maker will be providing as many as two dozen player’s eye view clips from the game thanks to a feature called “Be the Player.” The feature is based on the company’s 360 Replay technology which models the real world, which means that virtual views can be seen from any location.

To help create this the company has installed 38 5K cameras above the playing surface at the NRG Stadium in Houston. These feed visual data back to a rack of servers in the stadium and the whole process is speeded up by many of the features in the stadium being pre-rendered.

Super Bowl

That helps to speed up the data processing speed because it’s about one terabyte of data for every 15 to 30 second clip.

Other valuable pieces of technology infrastructure at the game will be 1,250 Wave 2 Access Points – so that everyone can connect to the Wi-Fi network, while Verizon has installed over 220 small cells, low-powered radio access nodes that provide short-range cell sites.

There’s been 70 miles of cable installed in order to support the systems in and around the stadium and an underground distributed antenna system.

It’s a massive event that wouldn’t be possible on this scale without the help of masses of technology.

Go Falcons!

Mixed reality is about to hit the RBS 6 Nations. Find out how it’s being used on the next page.

RBS 6 nations

Before the Super Bowl gets underway you can sit back and enjoy the start of the RBS 6 Nations, first with Scotland v Ireland at 14:25 on Saturday, followed by England v France at 16:50 and Italy v Wales at 14:00 on Sunday.

The competition is now in its sixth year of sponsorship with Accenture as its tech partner and the consultancy firm has upped the ante with its data analytics dashboard with the addition of machine learning.

Last year the dashboard, which provides player, match and Championship insights, was accessed by around 20,000 people, and now the company has added a mixed reality application.

With a mix of technology from Alteryx, Qlik and Tableau, and expert insights from former Italy coach Nick Mallet, England World Cup winner Ben Kay and Irish rugby legend Gordon D’Arcy, there will be plenty for fans to get their teeth into.

In addition to the analytics piece, Accenture has created a mixed reality experience. The company has blended physical and digital world, with the help of a green screen studio, and made it possible for the virtual reality experience to be broadcast.

The VR user is able to interact with players on a virtual pitch in addition to seeing all the team and player analytics from the dashboard in the virtual world.

If that’s not enough to fill the time between matches then there’s the official app that’s powered by Accenture.

Football

Technology entering the realms of football has been a slow process. The Premier League has goal-line technology but that’s far from being widely deployed across the leagues in the UK, let alone the world.

The big blocker to tech in football is the fear that it will slow down matches. So while in the NFL you can have a match that lasts for hours, a football match is fast paced and anything that slows it down is seen as being detrimental.

So, the majority of tech innovations coming in football has come on the side of fan engagement and internal systems.

Take Southampton Football Club for example, which recently partnered with Advanced, and implemented a ticketing ecommerce solutions called TALENT Sport. The idea behind it is to improve fan experience when purchasing online, and hopefully increase the volume of online ticket sales.

The football club will use fan data held within the solution in order to better engage with fans online and target them more accurately with promotions that are based on their interests.

The software operates in a private cloud and the club will also offers, thanks to the Advanced buy-back system, which allows season ticket holders who cannot make a match to release their ticket back to the club.

Then you have Manchester City FC, which has been leading the way with regards to fan engagement augmented by technology partnerships, and has recently brought the match day experience to virtual reality and 360 video.

The club, in collaboration with Jaunt, is now providing a 360 degree VR fan experience that is aimed at helping fans to get closer to the match day action at the Etihad Stadium. The video captures different moments of the match and then displays them in cinematic virtual reality.

Fans will be able to gain access to the players’ changing room and watch as the players line up to emerge onto the pitch.

Available on the Jaunt VR platform and created by using the Jaunt ONE camera and VR technology, it is designed to give the fan an authentic behind-the-scenes look at the match day atmosphere in the stadium.

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