The Importance of Keeping Sport Venue Tech Up-to-Date

The Importance of Keeping Sport Venue Tech Up-to-Date

These days, the stadium is more than just a vessel–it’s an experience in and of itself. With new technology cropping up and improving every year, sports venues are doing their best to stay up-to-date. Certain elements are this are more than just nice to have–they are both necessities and opportunities.

Take wifi, for example. While a decade ago, fans might be content to keep their smartphones away during a game, the stakes are higher now. Connectivity is a priority for younger fans, and Cisco reports that Internet is “as important as air, water, food and shelter to one in three college students and young professionals.” This may sound hyperbolic, but think about it. Many of us live a significant portion of our lives online, with our social and professional lives hinging on Internet access. Without wifi, you’re probably going to lose your fans at halftime.

Then, there’s improved home technology. High definition big screen TVs make viewing a game at home just as awesome, twice as comfortable, and much cheaper than visiting the game physically. So there has to be something at the stadium fans can’t get at home. How about in-arena interactive hotspots? Sports leagues and brands are both leaning into this trend by building high-tech experiences that enhance fans’ stadium experience.

But don’t forget, the smartphone might be the biggest opportunity of all, and with fast, easy-access wifi, both advertisers and national leagues can hook into fans’ phones. Think seat upgrades, easy food and beverage purchasing, insider facts and insights, or any other number of modern, digital conveniences.

For an example of a high-tech stadium, look no further than Brooklyn’s Barclays center, one of the most connected stadiums in the world. Thanks to smart design and innovative ideas, fans can upgrade seats and even get notifications when the restroom line is shortest.

There’s also the in-process Mercedes Benz Stadium, which I’ve blogged about previously. In partnership with the Atlanta Falcons, IBM, and Daktronics, the smart stadium will give fans 360-degree views of the on-field action, employing state of the art sustainable technologies all the while. The goal is to give fans the best experience possible, complete with awesome technology, while using as little energy as possible.

If the stadiums of the future keep integrating technology that delights fans, provides perks, and saves energy to boot, the world of sports is in for an exciting ride in coming decades. After all, sports are all about connecting communities over shared passions. What better way to do that than going all in on digital?

An Inside Look at The Gatorade Science Sports Institute’s Newest Satellite Lab

An Inside Look at The Gatorade Science Sports Institute’s Newest Satellite Lab

Gatorade is more than just a beverage that makes TV athletes sweat blue. The brand has long been associated with sports, science, and wellness, as is evidenced by the Gatorade Science Sports Institute. The Institute and its newest satellite lab in Florida are proof of Gatorade’s continued dedication to athletic innovation.

The Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) was founded in 1985 with the mission of “helping athletes optimize their health and performance through research and education in hydration and nutrition science.” In partnership with researchers and universities, they study the effects of nutrition on athletes before, during, and after exercise.

So, what have they been up to since foundation 31 years ago? GSSI has researched exercise, nutrition, and sports equipment using the latest tools in physiology, biochemistry, and sensory response. Their results have led to superior formulations in taste and functionality. GSSI has also partnered with physicians, scientists and athletic trainers to establish a Field Testing Program to study the effects of electrolytes on athletic performance.

In other words, GSSI scientists study and develop sports nutrition and hydration. This translates to improved Gatorade products and a wealth of scientific findings to back them up.

GSSI has expanded beyond its headquarters in Barrington, Illinois in recent years, having opened up satellite labs in the UK and most recently, Bradenton, Florida. Some lucky media insiders were able to get a tour of the Florida satellite lab at IMG Academy just this month, and their account shows off the innovative work behind the scenes.

Sport Techie brings us exclusive photos and videos from the GSSI satellite lab, where they sampled new Gatorade products and the technology used by GSSI and its athletes. This included the BodPod, an air displacement plethysmography test that determines body composition for athletes of all ages; the Fuel Profile Test, which evaluates of how an athlete uses energy across a range of exercise intensities; and the Gx sports fuel customization platform, which includes a bottle with flip cap, pods with Gatorade formula and additional tech to provide athlete fueling recommendations.

GSSI shows the amazing ways in which sport technology can monitor our health and maximize athletic performance. Ultimately, their research should help athletes understand what their bodies need to keep healthy, strong, and moving.  

Check Out The New High-Tech Mercedes Benz Stadium

Check Out The New High-Tech Mercedes Benz Stadium

The progression of getting the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium constructed was an effort that began in December of 2012. With it slated to open next year, the architectural marvel will be soon realized, and the Atlanta Falcons will finally have their state-of-the-art stadium. In collaboration with some tech and entertainment leaders, the arena is touted to ensure the best user experience.

The Falcons along with Daktronics, a company that creates large display systems, are working together to produce a venue that will offer a 63,000 square foot HD Halo video board, giving every fan a 360-degree view of the action. And if that isn’t enough, 2,000 video displays will be available for fans to watch the games — each of them connected through a stadium-controlled IPTV (Internet Protocol Television).

Along with Miller, the Atlanta Falcons Scott Jenkins, general manager of the then named “Atlanta stadium”, will work alongside Jared Miller, CTO of AMB Sport & Entertainment Group, to oversee the operations of the arena. Miller, who has been responsible for bringing tech-to-field, takes great pride in the project, “I’m very proud of what we’re deploying and I’m also very excited to see it all come to life.”

Another collaboration will include working with IBM, who will make sure the stadium’s tech will function without any incidents, creating — according to them — a “smarter stadium”. This intelligent playground will feature state-of-the-art sustainability technology, as well as IT prowess. Passive Optical Network (PON), a fiber optic network to ensure super-connectivity,  which will actually consume less energy. With its 1,800 wireless access and over 4,000 miles of fiber will serve 75,000 occupants, while increasing efficiency and overall energy costs. This is expected to be a huge accomplishment as PON will have its maiden voyage within an NFL stadium.

PON is just one of the conservation initiatives the stadium will bestow. According to Mercedes-Benz Stadium website, the stadium will be “[…] the latest sustainable advancements related to design, construction and operations, becoming a model of healthy environment for healthy bodies.”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium solar design renderings

Here are some more ways they will accomplish that per their site:

  1. WATER
    LEED (U.S. Water efficiency credits): which will include rainwater acquisition and reuse
    Solar PV panels and electric vehicle charging stations in parking areas.
    Natural energies and LED lighting that will reduce usage up to 50 percent.

The ultimate goal for the venue is to create the best possible fan experience while maintaining a conscientious design using ingenious concepts, tech, and architecture. No doubt, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, will be a stunning display of next-level sustainable technologies that Atlanta, the Falcons, and fans are anxious to see revealed.

But if you’re a fan who can’t wait, you won’t have to. The newest iteration of the video game “Madden” combines renderings of the stadium, where players can experience it ‘first-hand’. This is a fitting tech response to an upcoming tech wonder.

If you don’t intend on buying the video game and want a tour, click HERE or below for a virtual tour.

Gold Medal Tech We Saw in Rio 2016

Gold Medal Tech We Saw in Rio 2016

Since the modern Olympic games were first held in 1896, each iteration of the events has brought with it significant breakthroughs in both sport and broadcast technology. As fans and athletes around the world wrap up the 2016 Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro, we will long be reflecting on the captivating competitions, stunning victories, and amazing feats of athletic ability.

What often goes unnoticed, though, is the innovative technology put into play on the Olympic stage. Here are a few sports and broadcast innovations you might have missed in the Rio 2016 Olympics this August:

Smarter Tracks

Italian company Mondo created the striking royal blue Olympic track we saw at the Olympic Stadium in Rio this year. Mondo used nanotechnology to optimize the track for Rio’s extreme climate, which is sure to bring soaring temperatures and high humidity come August. By tweaking the molecular composition of the track, Mondo hoped athletes will reach record-breaking speeds on its surface, and lo and behold, Usain Bolt came through.

Meanwhile the Olympic Rio Velodrome brought fast times for cyclists, despite construction delays that left many wondering if it would be completed in time. Not only was it finished; its use by international athletes earned its 250m oval-shaped smooth wooden surface high praise.

Biometric Tracking

Quantifying human performance is one of today’s leading trends and research reveals that certain biomarkers, such as blood sugar levels, can be used to customize pro athletes’ training programs to ensure optimal performance. Professional athletes who track their glucose levels, hormone levels, and energy believe this helps them fine tune their workouts and nutrition plans to ensure peak performance come game day.

Back in 2012, the U.S. women’s cycling team faced steep odds, but brought home the silver medal through applying this approach to their training. Four years later, the use of biometric tracking is much more common, though we can’t expect the pros to reveal their secrets—that is, until after they take home a medal.

Innovative Olympic Torch

One of the most-watched events of the Olympics is the passing of the torch. Over the years, the torch has evolved from a real torch, first ignited in the 1928 games, to an apparatus that emits smoke and the appearance of fire. Today, the torches are designed to very technical standards with a gas chamber that creates a yellow or red flame of different intensities.  

The torch underwent a major makeover for the 2016 Olympic Games. The torch was completely redesigned with horizontal segments that opened up to reveal scenes of the sky, mountains, sea and earth, representing Brazil’s natural beauty. It is made out of recycled aluminum and resin, weighing between 1 to 1.5 kilograms and stands 69 centimeters tall when fully expanded.

Hydrodynamic Swimsuits

Back in 2008, Michael Phelps famously won eight Olympic gold medals while wearing a Speedo full body polyurethane and neoprene suit in Beijing. In 2010 FINA, the world governing body of swimming, banned racers from wearing these high tech suits after an unprecedented number of record-setting performances led many to suspect the suits were giving swimmers superpowers. Essentially, these rubber tubes compressed the swimmer’s body and trapped air, which reduced buoyancy and drag to unnatural levels.

Since then, Speedo and other apparel companies have had to think of creative ways to gain a competitive advantage while remaining within the new regulations that limited the length of suits and dictated that materials must be air-permeable and zipper free. Speedo enlisted the help of experts in hydrodynamics, aircraft engineering, and nano textiles in their redesign, which resulted in the Fastskin system, whose latest iteration was designed specifically for Rio. Essentially, the lycra suit is made with alternating levels of compression to reduce drag on specific body parts. The Fastskin compresses the body at least 3x the amount the polyurethane suits that were banned back in 2010, so it will be interesting to see if officials react to the degree that swimsuit tech aided the new records set in Rio.

Futuristic Cycling Upgrades

When  training for the Olympic Games, cyclists made use of Kickstarter funded Solos smart cycling glasses, which keep track of the athlete’s speed, heart rate, and other self-tracking metrics. While many cyclists already use computers to rack their pedal stroke or wear a heart rate monitor to keep track of their performance, Solos take tracking to the virtual reality level with a display like that of a car dashboard. While cyclists won’t be able to wear these glasses during competition events, they can make use of the metrics during training sessions — a new step for many.

Another breakthrough cycling innovation this year was witnessed in the U.S. women’s team sleek new bikes, dubbed Project 2016. The Felt bikes featured a first in cycling design: a left side crankset. Moving the crankset from the traditional right side mount showed a remarkable 3.5 second speed gain over 4,000 meter distances in testing. Taking inspiration from NASCAR, researchers moved the crankset to the left to offset wind force, or yaw, coming from the left as racers compete in counterclockwise ovals. In other words, the bikes, like racing cars, should be asymmetrical in design, since they’re only racing in one direction. Putting this into practice in the design of Felt—rather than solely focusing on reducing frontal aerodynamic drag, as most bike research does—gave the U.S. women’s team a competitive advantage on the Cycling Track. The women won silver, losing to Britain’s powerful (and more fully outfitted) team.

New Broadcast Experiences

Before television news, the first Games were broadcast in the cinema; live broadcasts didn’t take place until the 1920s via radio. The Olympic Games were first beamed into homes on television in 1936. In the decades since, clarity has gone from grainy to high definition, and Rio’s Ultra HD resolution broadcasts will be the sharpest yet. Fans go a better audio experience in this year’s games thanks to Super HI Vision cameras, from Japan’s state broadcaster NHK. These high def audio cameras have been described by the Olympic Broadcast Services as “3D 22.2 channel audio surround sound.”

Another new broadcast medium this year came in the form of virtual reality (VR) headsets. Fans with compatible headsets had the ability to access live and on-demand VR coverage of certain events. Experts have described this as a defining moment for VR technology and the implementation of VR at the Rio Olympics will allow for a truly immersive 360 degree experience that will set a new precedent for Olympic broadcasts.

Ryan Lochte’s Brazilian escapade may make for better news fodder, but the triumph of technology should not be overlooked. From asymmetrical bikes to hydrodynamic swimsuits, the Rio Olympics debuted innovative tech in practically every sporting event. Meanwhile new broadcast technology and virtual reality continues to evolve the way we watch these historic games—making the 2016 Summer Olympics equal parts athletic and technological tour de force.