As technology evolved through the years, we have seen sports go from competitions in brute strength and endurance to more sophisticated endeavours. It is not to say those original skills and strengths are not at play anymore, they’re just better employed, thanks to technological progress. Lately IoT has been one of the upcoming technologies helping teams get better performance out of the athletes, as well as revolutionising how fans engage with sports. Although applications are already widespread, there are many ways IoT could be further leveraged.
Let’s start from the fan experience side. Stadiums such as SoFi Stadium in California are a good example of how IoT is already being used to deliver an enhanced fan experience. The venue delivers fast high-bandwidth connectivity to every fan, which allows them to connect to SoFi’s immersive experience applications.
5G technology is also used to stream 4K video to the video board. These kinds of applications of IoT are designed to compete with sophisticated televisions and home theatres and aim to get fans off the couch and in the stadiums. Connected sensors are also already being used to monitor ventilation and climate inside stadiums.
As innovative as they might seem these stadiums are barely scratching the surface. The latest tech could be used to enable predictive maintenance for venue and team equipment, to assist in crowd control both on the stands and at merchandise and food booths, to enhance fan experience through multiple live video feeds, and much more. These solutions are not a pipe dream. Billions of dollars are being invested in designing and building these futuristic venues where the match itself might not be the biggest attraction.
On the team and player side of things IoT devices have made the job of coaches and sports physicians easier. IoT and smart apparel are being used to both enhance safety and optimise training. Athlete data is collected from a variety of wearable sensors and then analysed and used to tailor training and workloads to each athlete. One of the key ways this data is used is to estimate how much recovery time an athlete needs after competitions or injury.
The insight that comes from collected data can help coaches mitigate injury risks during training and create a training regime to specifically target strengths and weaknesses in an athlete. In the future this data could be simplified and provide insight directly to athlete so they can improve even in the absence of a professional coach. Coaches can also combine game footage and data gained through sensors to develop stronger team strategies.
At the end of the day, we need to remember that professional sports is a business and like any business there’s room for increasing financial performance. Data from IoT sensors can massively help advertisers, even after addressing privacy concerns. Teams and their advertising partners can use this data to craft more competitive marketing strategies. This information could also help create customised fan packages that might include merchandise, stadium tours and so on. Athlete data could also be exploited to design better sports apparel. Sports manufacturers could partner with different franchises to create something that tailored to athletes.
It stands clear then that IoT can benefit athletes, fans, and businesses alike by connecting different devices and procedures. It is set to enable an age of inter-connectivity that will completely transform how games are played, watched, and organized.