Behind any series of sporting events is a great tech story, and the summer of sport we’ve
just enjoyed is no different.
Virtually all professional sports and athletes now use Internet of Things ( IoT ) technology – where data is captured and analysed to optimise training, improve performance and reduce injury . Harnessing data can make the sports person, team and club successful – and the fan experience richer and more interactive than ever.
But, whilst the future seems expansive for these innovative technologies, the possibilities are limited by issues of complexity and capacity. Extreme spikes in data traffic challenge backend infrastructures, and the benefit of IoT and Big Data will only come to fruition with the right processing, power and storage capabilities behind it.
Progress at lightning “Bolt” speed
The idea of capturing data during a sporting event is not new – as long ago as 1958, Charles Reep , an RAF officer and accountant, created a paper notation system to record players’ moves d uring the 1958 World Cup Final.
However, it was during the 1990s when the pace of change accelerated exponentially – as football, rugby and a raft of other professional sporting clubs started to install cameras which enabled match-play monitoring. Digital cameras, video technology and data tools have all added to the sophistication and precision of sports analysis – and the industry is rocketing.
While the concept isn’t new , the richness of the data now available and the speed at which it is gathered is. Over the last few years, sports clubs have started to link information from their cameras and video scr eens with other sources of data – especially information from GPS (global positioning system) satellites and accelerometers worn by players.
Capitalising on our love of data; the big capacity challenge
C oaches and fans alike are addicted to data. For sporting professionals, it’s a way to enhance performance – and for fans, it’s a way to engage more with the sport that they love.
The Tour de France was a relatively late arrival to technology adoption. As recently as 2014, real-time information was only available from a chalkboard, held up by a race executive sitting as a passenger on a motorbike driving ahead of the cyclists, but tech is now opening the sport up to new and old fans like never before . In 2014 , video clips put out by organisers had six million views; in 2016 that grew to 55 million – and the number of fans interacting with the sport is growing every y ear.
Social media traffic spikes during sporting events (we tracked two million searches for basketball star Kyrie Irving during just one NBA game in July) show that fans want to share, to engage and to know more about every aspect of a game.
As we move into the autumn, football is yet another major sport enabling fans to immerse themselves in the game so they can get even more passionate about the trials and tribulations of clubs and their players. In 2016, BT Sport re-launched their ap p for mobile and tablet devices offering a greater in-depth experience for fans watching live sport. When following the football, for example, thanks to real-time data tracking viewers can easily see just who’s making the most passes, covering the most distance and where all the action is taki ng place on the pitch . And if that isn’t enough involvement, they can d elv e even deeper and instantly access a whole host of season statistics for a ny player they chose.
A whole new ball game: The impact of tech on sport