By Mr. Edge, 9/26/2018
The in-stadium experience is rapidly changing (no, not the actual game, but the experience!) due to high-speed Wi-Fi and advanced mobile networks. Simply connecting your phone to the mobile internet used to be impossible thanks to thousands of people in the stadium all connecting to the internet at the same time. But over the past few years, advanced Wi-Fi hotspots placed in stadiums and a progressing mobile network, make sending out the perfect, just-recorded video easy.
Although a big improvement, there is a massive opportunity to provide even more innovation and unique experiences throughout the stadium. Most sports stadiums have begun to (or already have) install(ed) Wi-Fi hotspots throughout their stadium to help users connect to the mobile network. Connecting to the stadium Wi-Fi not only allows users to connect to network faster, but it also allows access to location-based services through the stadium’s application (note that location-based services can be provided by either connecting to the stadium Wi-Fi or to the mobile network).
Then, stadiums can manipulate the application to be different when a user is in the stadium and when the user is not. For example, the San Francisco 49ers, Brooklyn Nets, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos offer apps that allow users to access a food or merchandise delivery options, or a map of the stadium, when they are located within the stadium itself.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for stadium apps. What is possible in five years? In ten years? Of course, there is no right answer, but we can guess based on a few key trends. One way to understand what could happen in the stadium is to look at what is happening on TV. Due to rising ticket prices and increasingly better content resolution, some fans choose to sit at home to watch the game. Some of those fans argue it is a better experience to watch on TV due to the amazing angles they can view from the comfort of their house. Not all fans can afford tickets that are close to the action, so this is the perfect solution.
How can stadiums get the fans that choose to watch at home back to the game? One way is with Mobile Edge Computing (MEC). This allows stadiums to provide either push notifications of replays to all fans or provide a section of their stadium app that is dedicated to replays. For other fans, the amazing angles might not be what keeps them away from the stadium, and it might be the on-TV graphics and statistics they’re interested in. In this case, it is not MEC that will get them back into the stadium (although MEC would help).
Instead, it is Augmented Reality. In the future, fans should be able to flash their camera over the game to see a plethora of options to see statistics on their camera. The technology in the stadium should push the limits of the network.
At the end of the day, while technology is cool and many of us enjoy it, people go to the stadium for the teams and players. In fact, the technology must not interfere with the game, but rather enhance the game when called upon. It will be exciting to see how stadiums will use technology to capture the imagination of their fans just like the teams and players do.