Over the years, new technologies have continuously transformed many industries across the world, and the sports industry is no different. In fact, it has changed many aspects of sports, such as preventing injuries, tracking scores, analyzing plays and goals, increasing fan engagement, specialized wearable technology, and much more.
Therefore, today’s sports have entirely changed from what they were some years ago because of emerging technologies. The article will highlight some age-old sports that have received high-tech revamps.
Let’s get started.
1. Wearable Technology
Prior to this technology, sports officials worked extra hard to track plays and scores. Today, these officials use wearables with RFID chips and GPS trackers to calculate scores instantly, impartially using quantifiable data.
Sports technology has become sophisticated, and some of the high-end fitness products can measure heart rates, count steps, deliver electrocardiogram results, and much more. These products are linked with smartphones and smartwatches. In fact, innovators of these devices keep stretching the boundaries of what they can do.
Some of the popular wearable technology in sports include:
Smartwatches: These are commonly used by amateur fitness buffs and professional athletes. The device tracks the steps, calories, heart rate, and pulse.
Smart Clothing: The gears are designed with a specific activity in mind. Athletes can use socks built with textile pressure sensors that show whether the person is striking with the balls of their feet or the heels. The advanced medical tech includes sensor-filled shirts, leggings, smart rings, etc.
Timing Systems: Participants no longer use stopwatches to time the race. Sports wearable technology companies have made special accessories and clothing to track their speed and motion. Other timing tools are fitted into the venues or used in systems within the venues. For instance, the starter pistol is connected to a clock that starts timing the race when the pistol goes off. Both touchpads and wearable inertial sensors are used in swimming to determine performance.
Some of the benefits of wearable technology in sports are:
- Track health and fitness data
- Optimize athletic performance
- Prevents injuries by predicting risky patterns and movements and identifying danger zones
- Ensures accuracy during matches, performances, and matches when worn by sports officials
2. Fan Engagement
A fully engaged fan experience is the best, and clubs and their teams have started implementing various strategies to increase excitement and energy in their loyal supporters. Fan engagement has been transformed from seating in a stadium with beer on your hand to digital sports arenas, digital currency, fantasy leagues, and apps. Other initiatives include;
Loyalty Programs: People that regularly support their teams or clubs are rewarded with merchandise and privileges such as VIP access to stadiums or meet and greet with athletes. Others sell team jerseys fitted with chips on their sleeves, giving the season ticket holders loyalty rewards when they enter the venue. Other sports organizations have high-tech rewards such as blockchain and tokenization programs. They can be used as currency.
Digital Fan Engagement: Aside from loyalty programs, some sports organizations have taken digital fan engagement to another level by installing high-speed internet in their stadiums. Fans watching games in these facilities can access apps, player stats, replays, live commentary, etc. It also enables them to update their social media platforms in real-time, which is an added advantage to sports bodies and venues that rely on user-generated content to drive sales.
Online Fan Engagement: These include fantasy leagues, forums, and global fan clubs. Teams and venues use advanced technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality to move fans from their computers to digital sports arenas.
They are common in athletic gear and sports equipment. Athletes can wear them or can be built into their clothing and shoes. They can track health, deliver real-time results, and much more.
Some of the common sensors in the sports industry include:
- Heart rate monitors
- Sleep trackers
- Pressure sensors
- Global Positioning System (GPS) units
- Local Positioning System (GPS) units
- Velocity Based Training (VBT) sensors
- Accelerometers and gyroscopes
- Inertial sensors
Sensor tools guarantee fair judgment when it comes to performance, and athletes win fairly. They analyze whether goals were valid, players committed an offense, or the ball went past the goal line. These are things that a naked eye cannot clearly tell.
Some of these sensor tools include:
- Hawk-Eye technology in cricket
- The user of laser beams in tennis sensor tools
- 3D lasers in sensor tools for gymnastics
4. Instant Replay
The technology allows officials to slow down and reexamine the game during controversial sports moments. This remarkable technology is used in games like cocker, rugby, cricket, baseball, football, mixed martial arts, and combat sports.
The instant replay is important in fan engagement because it encourages discussions and debates as well as serves as mementos during commentaries, recaps, and roundtable discussions of the game. So instant replay is a common feature in the sports world.
Fans of all types can now enjoy sports thanks to the new technologies. Previously, fans with a disability struggled to access stadiums or certain aspects of games. Until recently, the Australian Open tennis tournament introduced descriptive audio so that visually impaired fans can enjoy the game. Organizers combine spatial sound effects and live ball position data to give their fans an exclusively immersive experience.
Other initiatives to support fans with a disability include:
E-ticketing Systems: They include electronically-driven or contactless services that enable fans to navigate through a venue without disabled parking spaces or wheelchair access near areas like concession stands and ticketing stations.
In-seat Delivery Services: Some venues allow fans to order some refreshments, food, and drinks. These items are delivered to their seats as they enjoy the game. The good news is that this provision is not exclusive to fans with a disability, but other game attendees can also benefit from it.
Para Sports: The new technology helps disabled athletes to participate in sports too using carbon fiber wheelchairs or motorized prosthetics. Assistive technology is now allowed during sporting activities because of exciting breakthroughs. For instance, in swimming, visually impaired participants initially depended on tappers who physically touched them using a pole to indicate that they should turn. Modern swimmers use digital device that signals them when to turn.
6. Equipment Development
Safety is a crucial component in sports. It ensures athletes have a longer lifespan so that their fans can enjoy watching them play. As a result, equipment manufacturers develop devices that reduce accidents, prevent injuries, and support the well-being of spectators.
During the 2010 season, special helmets were recommended and used in the NFL due to concussion injuries. These helmets were special because they absorbed shock due to collisions and protected athletes from neck and head injuries. Biometric monitors were another wearable technology in NFL. Similarly, the technology is used in hockey and auto racing to improve safety in high contact and impact activities.
On the other hand, the sports industry ensures spectator safety during sporting events to prevent fast-moving debris or bodies from harming them. In hockey venues, a glass type that absorbs impact and doesn’t shatter is used in order to protect fans. Similarly, Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers are used in most racing events instead of concrete ones.
The sports industry has witnessed tremendous changes because of new technology. Sports bodies utilize these technologies to enhance fan engagement, provide accurate scores, address controversial sports moments, ensure both athletes and fans are safe and much more.
Indeed sports events have become digital. Fans can purchase their tickets through electronically-driven services, order food and drinks while still seated, or participate in competitions using assistive technology. Indeed the future of sports is increasingly becoming digital and different types of fans can now enjoy their favorite sport both at home or in the stadium.