Once upon a time there was a great divide between my sporty friends and I. Traditionally, sporty people were less likely to embrace technology as warmly as “geeky” people such as myself. Tech was seen as an indoors activity, while sporty people want to be enjoying the outdoors.
Thanks to advancements such as the rise of mobile technology allowing us to take our tech on the go, I’m happy to report the gap between sports fans and geeks is being bridged and the sports industry are continuing to reap more and more benefits by embracing technology.
Okay, so maybe we still aren’t able to bond via MMORPGs, but we can both appreciate some of the incredible advances in the sporting world as it becomes more digital. I’ve put together some of these interesting innovations as an olive branch to extend to all of my sporty friends.
Eye on the Champs
At iiNet, one of our visions is to harness the true potential of the internet and lead the way as a champion in innovation. That’s why we were excited to combine our telecommunications expertise with our love of AFL through our “Eye on the Champs” webisode series featuring the Hawthorn Football Club.
The 7 episode series allowed fans to connect better with some of their Hawks heroes online via video streaming. Videos were hosted on our micro site, where fans could watch the videos, which gave a special insight into the private lives of their favourite players. This kind of personal connection and accessibility to stars is something that has been made increasingly achievable thanks to the rising popularity of social media and video streaming.
An additional activity we planned for Hawks fans was the social media hashtag “playlikeachamp”. By throwing up the hashtag in the caption on a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram picture, fans could connect with us and each other to share their passions with likeminded people.
Stadiums of the Future
Spectators need stadiums to watch all the action of some of their favourite games up close. A city’s Sport Stadium is not only economically important in providing jobs in the community and generating revenue from ticket sales; it’s also an important source of entertainment and social interaction, making it a massive asset.
Since a stadium can become such an iconic feature for a city, it makes sense to deck them out with as many bells and whistles as possible. There are certainly some cool predictions for how stadiums are going to become increasingly speccy and techy in the future.
Video screens are an important feature at a stadium: they allow all spectators to get a good view of the action, even if they’re seated way out in the nosebleed section. The size of a stadium’s display has always been somewhat of a bragging right, and the consensus seems to be “the bigger, the better”. This may be why Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, installed the biggest of its kind: 18.3 metres high and 110.3 metres wide!
Big screens aren’t a new concept anymore, but there are fresh innovations in the digital space for sports fans. The first takes a leaf out of the book of every popular airline: personal screens for every seat. This may sound expensive, but thankfully, taxpayers won’t need to shell out for the instalment of 40k-plus screens at a stadium – they already have their own personal screen in their pocket. Since almost everyone has their own smartphone, sports stadiums are looking to create apps that let fans pause, rewind and watch clips of the game from whichever angle they choose on their smart devices.
Your smartphone won’t just be helpful for letting you replay crucial moments, it’ll also be in charge of the equally important task of the food run. No one likes to draw the short straw and miss out on the pivotal goal in the game to fetch the group’s refreshments. Thankfully future stadiums are looking to keep fans fed and watered from the comfort and view of their seat. Future fans will be able to download an app on their phone, from which they can order their meat pie and coke for delivery straight to their seat.
Innovation in our own backyard
The sound of these futuristic upgrades may have your mouth watering, but did you know some sports stadiums in Australia are already leading the way in technological innovation?
Crows fans are delighted with the Adelaide Oval’s cutting edge Virtual Venue Technology, which allows them to get a 3D virtual tour of the stadium, including a view from the seat they wish to purchase. This puts fans in control, as they can compare the different views before settling on a seat; a new way to try before you buy.
The new Perth Stadium is set to be a world-class Stadium in Western Australia, opening its doors to fans in time for the 2018 AFL season. The pride of this stadium will be its “fans-first”, “future-proof” design. Some of the best features of this design include full 4G WiFi coverage and 1,000 strategically placed TV screens to ensure fans always have a view of the game.
What futuristic features are you hoping to see for the future of sport? Let us know in the comments below.