November 2017 – Advances in technology have led to a profound impact on sport, both in the analysis of sports performance and revolutionising the fan experience. The global annual spend across all sports consumption is $145 billion. Therefore, it is unsurprising that technology giants are investing heavily in the industry as it is a vast platform for technology firms to develop and showcase their latest innovations on an international scale.
SAS has provided British Rowing with the capacity to maximise the impact of every training session by offering in depth and speedy analysis of performance. In a sport where races are won by tenths of a second, the small improvements gained from detailed analysis are invaluable. The ability to review and dissect athletes’ performance has become revolutionised by virtual visualisation. RICOH supplies the Rugby teams in the English Premiership with interactive boards that allow coaches to annotate plays and tailor training sessions on specific skills needing improvement. This can also be seen in the world of equestrianism with SAP tracker and visualisation technology being used by riders to evaluate their strategy and performance at events such as CHIO Aachen and the Event Rider Masters.
Coaching techniques have also been transformed by technology. STRIVR has bought Augmented Reality (AR) into football training, enabling coaches to put players in virtual decision-making scenarios. Microsoft has taken this to the next level with their investment in Mixed Reality (MR) software Hololens to aid in golf coaching specifically for the PGA Tour. The MR holograms depict the course and by integrating Shotlink data, heatmapping is used to track shots and visually compare player shot trajectories.
Technology has become part of the fabric of sport. Enabling referees, umpires and sport officials to make better decisions on rule infringements. Hawkeye technology is used in tennis for electronic line calling and the English Football Premier League now use it to aid in goal line decisions. SMART and UltraEdge Replay is used across sports to ensure more accuracy in decisions from TMO in rugby to LBW calls in cricket. This also provides spectators with a better viewing of sport performance.
Fans are demanding to be more engaged, more involved in the action and IBM in partnership with the LTA embraced this need for the Wimbledon Championship 2017. Creation of an app to give fans personalised interaction with their favourite sports was central in their technological strategy. Fans were provided with data insights of live player and match statistics. In baseball, Intel has delivered the technology for fans to watch ballgames live and on demand in Virtual Reality (VR). Fans can personalise their experience with multiple camera angles, post-game highlights and on demand statistics. Artificial Intelligence (AI) was also incorporated in the app, an AI feature called ‘Ask Fred’ acted as a personal guide to the visitors. FC Bayern has introduced an AR app that enables fans to create a MR experience with its star players. Fans can make the players appear on any flat surface and screenshot the photo.
Technological advancements are constantly being made and it is revolutionising sport both for the fans and players. The sports industry in the US alone is projected to reach $75 billion by 2019. Fans are obsessed with their favourite teams and spend long hours and significant funds to support their passion. Sport is a huge business and the sports technology space has rapidly become an intriguing market for investment.