2018 is the year of technology in sports. Tech has, of course, been used to great effect in the development, playing, and broadcasting of sport, but this year looks set to be the year that changes everything.
The change will be felt throughout the world, from New Zealand to the USA, and from South Korea to South Africa. The world has already begun to see a massive shift in the rise of eSports and online sports betting, but a whole lot more is on the way.
There have already been announcements of massive developments from the likes of Fifa, and rugby team performance directors have spoken highly of tech’s role in the sport. 2018’s sporting tech trends have surfaced, and they promise an exciting road ahead.
Big News from FIFA
A FIFA executive has given football fans even more reason to get excited about this year’s World Cup tournament. According to CCO Philippe Le Floc'h, the tournament to be held in Russia in June will be the first to use Video Assisted Referee (VAR) technology.
VAR was used on a trial basis during this season in England, Germany, and Italy. While the final decision is to be made at football rules body IFAB’s March meeting, Le Floc’h is confident that it will be approved. FIFA is reportedly even looking for VAR sponsors.
Tech in Rugby
Technology is also making its presence felt in rugby. Saracens performance director Phil Morrow has detailed the team’s use of Garmin’s Vivosmart activity tracker in helping coaches offer the best preparation to players on an individual level as well as on a team level.
According to Morrow, the activity tracker, as well as video analysis, and health and gym monitoring devices such as heart-rate monitors provide invaluable information.
The team’s coaches and trainers use the data to gain insight into the game’s demands and how those demands are met by players, how individual players recover from injuries, and what best suits players’ physical development. The Vivosmart even tracks players’ sleep patterns and quality, as sleep is essential to physical and mental well-bring, as well as to the recovery process.
Garmin has also provided the Saracens rugby team with smart wind monitoring devices for goal posts. The devices can be connected to the kicking coach’s smartwatch to deliver accurate wind speed and direction information instantly, which can assist coaches and players to understand the effect of the wind on different kicking techniques.
Sports Viewing Tech Trends
While such tech trends may take time to reach New Zealand, sports fans can look forward to entirely new ways to enjoy broadcasts of their favourite sports.
2018 is the year in which Magic Leap launches its One Creator Edition, a mixed reality headset that offers views a choice of options, such as leaderboard and interactive statistics streams, as well as the possibility of watching multiple events simultaneously on virtually-imposed screens.
Data overlay and multiple viewing options are also features of another AR sports viewing device to be unveiled by tech company ThirdEye Gen Inc. later this year.
In 2017, the NBA partnered with NextVR to expand and improve its use of virtual reality, while Microsoft’s Hololens was used with success by Taqtile at live sporting events.
Sports Broadcast Streaming Options
Sports broadcasting has seen massive developments in tech over the years, and in 2018, viewers will have an array of new options from which to choose. CBS, ESPN, Turner Sports, and other broadcasters all have plans to offer advanced streaming services to sports fans. This will make online betting even more enjoyable for those who like to watch the action they wagered on unfold, in real time.
ESPN announced the imminent launch of a mobile app that offers a subscription service fans can use to access quality content. In addition to 10 000 live events, viewers can also access the approximately 16 000 events shown by the broadcaster in 2017, documentaries, and other original content.
Turner Sports is planning the launch of a subscription service of UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League content from its Bleacher Report service. CBS’ plans include a free sports news streaming service supported by advertising.
Connective Smart Stadiums
Connectivity has been an issue that has marred the experience of watching live sports in stadiums for a few years. It has meant that fans have not been able to enjoy the experience as much as they could have done, and it means sporting bodies lost out on opportunities for greater marketing and engagement.
This is set to change with the emergence of smart stadiums. 5G LTE upgrades and the new 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard will open the way for smooth and reliable connectivity in spaces where high density has traditionally meant sluggish functionality for smart devices. Most notably, the PyeongChang Winter Olympics received 5G connectivity, thanks to Intel, while this year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis USA will receive 5G connectivity from AT&T.
Connectivity tech developments pave the way for greater social interaction, mobile gaming and other apps, AR, and accessible and convenient payment solutions. Exciting times lie ahead.