2015 Trends In Sport Technology
We have become so accustomed to great technological leaps forward over the last few years that the lack of any major headlines in 2014 has left everyone hoping that 2015 brings some exciting changes. Our technology director, Paul Edwards, sticks his neck out and predicts what the major technology themes of 2015 might be…
Some of the UK’s biggest sport stadiums are already connected up with wifi including Wembley, Man City’s Etihad, Ascot Racecourse, Lord's and The All England Tennis club. 2015 will see this trend grow with Twickenham having high speed wifi connectivity ahead of the Rugby World Cup and other Premier League clubs coming on board.
Fitting wifi in a stadium is a means to an end but provides the opportunity for improved fan engagement. The Man City match day app wouldn’t be possible without reliable consistent wifi in the stadium, and this allows the club and sponsors a unique opportunity to connect with their fans.
By the end of 2015 fans will have come to expect high-quality wifi access within stadiums as a standard part of their visit, and will start to make their voices heard when this isn’t available.
The eagerly anticipated unveiling of the Apple Watch received a muted response relative to the reception that greeted the iPod, iPhone and iPad, however excitement will grow again ahead of the expected launch in Spring 2015. Opinion is split over whether it will have the same impact on the wearables industry that Apple have had on music and mobile telephones.
Most wearable technology will continue to focus on those participating in the sport rather than observing, whether they are professionals or amateurs. A quick look at Kickstarter will show you many innovative uses of technology from “smart” insoles to “smart” MMA gloves. The key factor for clubs and other sporting organisations will be whether app developers can use the benefits of a watch to increase fan engagement.
An area to keep an eye on will be eTicketing, particularly for high-value VIP fans. Removing the hassle of a printed ticket and replacing it with a virtual ticket on your phone which can also provide access to other benefits when in the stadium could be attractive for a lot of clubs and organisations.
We will inevitably see the continued increase in people watching live sport on mobile devices. Cisco predict that over half of all mobile data consumption in 2015 will be video, much of this will be due to an increase in the number of smartphones and in those with access to 4G or LTE networks.
The increase in usage will be reflected by an increase in investment from the major sports broadcasters and we will see higher quality streaming experiences for viewers of the major sporting events this year.
As the costs of producing video continue to fall and cheaper video editing tools become available we will also see that is becomes a key part of many organisations’ content strategies.
2015 will see more and more stories about interesting uses of 3D printing in sport. In 2014 it was seen as a bit of a novelty but there were examples of it being used in injury treatment and recovery as well as performance improvement (i.e. custom insoles).
We will probably see some uses of 3D printing around personalised memorabilia for fans but could we see the Rugby World Cup won by a penalty taken off a 3D printed kicking tee, custom made for the player’s kicking style?
Some of us can still remember the excitement of Virtual Reality the first time round when there was even a film made about it (Lawnmower Man. Don’t bother, it’s awful). Interest in virtual or augmented reality spiked again last year with Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift. Next year should see the launch of Oculus Rift to the public along with competitor devices from companies like Samsung. It'll also be interesting to see what happens with lo-fi cardboard versions of the similar technology.
We’ve already seen some uses of Oculus Rift in coaching and training but next year we’re hoping to see some exciting uses in getting fans closer to the action as developers get accustomed to the various features of OR.
Trials of 4K or UltraHD during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil highlighted the many production and delivery issues that need to be solved before 4K becomes an option for widespread household viewing. Ghosting and other issues impact sport more than they do film and drama and broadband speeds will limit the number of households who could make use of 4K (Netflix estimate that 4K will need an average download speed of 25mbps, still out of reach of many).
This will be a relatively quiet year for 4K however we should expect a big push from the hardware manufacturers and broadcasters ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.