10 great technologies that will change sports

10 great technologies that will change sports

Technology is playing an important role in our lifes and also in sports. It will hugely change and disrupt many fields within sports. We briefly discuss 10 technologies that will have the biggest impact.

Technology has become part of our lifes

Technology seems to be everywhere nowadays! When I mean technology, I limit myself to everything that has to do with chips and computers here. I realise there is much more like bio technology etc. It is unimaginable for current new generations that there were times, not that long ago, that we managed our lifes without a computer and/or mobile phone. Yes, we had a telephone at home and if lucky, a radio and/or television. That was about it! Technology had not really entered into our daily habits big time.

Today, it is different. Wherever you look, there is technology. It is fully integrated in what we are doing and takes up a lot of our time. It has improved our performances and production levels and hence GDP.  In sports, it is no different. Technology has become a force to reckon with and is everywhere, both on a professional scale as with amateurs and fans. We discuss briefly 10 important technologies which will be extremely important in the future of sports.

1. Virtual Reality

Let’s very briefly explain the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality first. VR (Virtual Reality) puts you in an artificial real 3D environment, whereas AR (Augmented Reality) overlays digital information on the real world environments.

Virtual Reality will be a widely used technology in the future. Imagine yourself at home with your headgear on! With VR you will have a real-time fully immersed 3-D experience. When tickets for the game are sold out, no worries, VR will come to the rescue and it will be like you are in the stadium! There are even experiments going on where you will have the social experience as well together with others.

Increasingly, media companies will start to allow for VR broadcasts! What’s more, you will be able to view the game from positions that used to be inaccessible. VR also wiil and already is a perfect training tool for plenty of sports. You now can simulate real and potential situations which might happen during a  game. This way you can come up with a potential solution. Additionally, imagine what it can do to improve your technique.

But there is more! Just put on your VR headgear and start a game of golf on St Andrews in the comfort of your home. Or how about this one: sportification! Play Fortnite in an empty factory hall. You will be the live moving participant in your own game equipped with just your VR gear and an artificial gun……it is the 10 times more sophisticated version of paintball. Virtual reality is also already used in the design of sporting clothes and equipment design. Innovation is the most important factor in this industry as the bar is raised higher and higher in terms of sporting achievement.

2. Augmented Reality

Ok, what about Augmented Reality then? Augmented Reality and its cousin Mixed Reality (where the overlay becomes a real 3D object with which you can interact in the real world) are here to stay! That’s an easy one as far as I am concerned. The technology is still relatively new and you can bet the number of applications still will grow tremendously in the coming few years. As long as glasses and hololenses are not commonplace, there is still a lot of ground to be gained here and certainly in the world of sports, where it will disrupt almost any field.

What to expect? Brace yourselves! Sports entertainment and fan engagement will benefit, with loads of interesting gimmicks and games (watch the video below!). But also expect the sports betting and sports broadcasting to see interesting changes. For example expect info to appear on your screen by just pointing at a player! It will disrupt those industries big time.Training, refereeing and coaching will be much different with AR as all kind of new situations and gameplays can be simulated straight away.

Sports medicine is also a field which will be affected! Think of athletes wearing sensors and wearable tech, whose movements can be tracked by for example a hololens through which you can visualise what’s happening with the athlete’s joints and bones. The sports products market will see big changes. Particularly goggles and glasses will become common place. Expect swimmers, cyclists and joggers to be equipped with headgear giving you live information of what’s happening. There is much, much more in the funnel than we have got so far!

See also: 10 great ways AR will impact the world of sports

3. The blockchain

You might think that the blockchain has mainly to do with crypto currencies. The contrary is true. In the near future, the blockchain will be a very important tool in our lifes. In brief, it is a technology that allows you and me to make an electronic transaction  without the help of a middleman. This transaction will be safe, transparent and forever kept as a record, just as in a bookkeeping system.

In sports there will be a wide array of applications.  Just to name a few: direct investment in athletes/clubs in return for part of its/his/her future earnings, safe sports betting, tickets that can no longer be forged. Additionally blockchain technology may also be used in the fight against doping, in fan engagement and in protecting sports imaging rights. I am sure you get the message by now.

See also: How will the blockchain impact sports

4. Sensors and wearables

Sensors and wearables are everywhere and are already impacting our lifes big time. Whether it is a Fitbit, Garmin or Nike watch, many of us are using wearables to measure heartrates, body temperature, breathing, steps, distance etc. They are an excellent way to track what is happening with your body. The stream of new applications are helping both professional athletes as well as the amateurs like you and me. Besides gathering data related to your health, they can also gather data related to performance and how to improve. They can help you in determining training loads, health, fatigue levels, stress levels, potential injuries and even your mental state of mind. 

But there is much, much more. What to think of sensors in sports equipment such as balls, golfclubs, bats and whatever you can think of. They can basically measure everything varying from spin rates, smash factors, kicking power and you name it. Imagine what that will do for training and coaching purposes. It also can help in refereeing, as we see for example with goal line technology. Additionally sensors are more and more integrated into smart clothing which can measure a range of different things. Watch the video below: smart yoga pants, which instruct you how to get the right posture.

Then there is the fan! They will benefit from sensor technology too! For instance, there are jerseys which let you receive haptic vibrations in order to feel the excitement of every highlight in the game. It is already there! Wearablex has come up with Jersey X. But more is coming. The same company is having the Alert Shirt where fans can feel what the player experiences during a game. Auch! Imagine you have the same sensation which a player has when he gets hit or tackled or taking a penalty shot in front of 40,000 people. You will feel it as it happens.

This should bring you definitely a lot closer to your favorite player or athlete, I would imagine. Immersion levels no doubt will be higher. It is a bit like your steering wheel trembling in a race sim game.

In the future expect sensors with little cameras which give you the live experience of how a player experiences the game, or join a ball during its flight. It will give you a difgerent viewing experience. And remember, it is just the beginning! There are already people who have placed sensors under their skin and are permanently connected!

Also interesting to read: How sensors are positively transforming the world of sports

5. Artifical Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence will be everywhere! In combination with sensors it will probably have (and is already doing so) the biggest impact on sports of all new technologies. Where there is data there will be artificial intelligence! With these data you can write basically every algorithm you want. Whether it is the right camera angle in broadcasting, whether it is player healthcare, nutrition, monitoring players during training, scouting, coaching, performance analysis, advertising, fan engagement or sports betting, Artificial Intelligence will be everywhere!

It will be a key factor in taking sports to the next level! That will be the case for pro’s, fans and amateurs! Solutions will be tailor made rather than one for all! Buckle up! One way or another you too will be affected, do not underestimate it!

See also: How AI is impacting the world of sports

6. Robots

Robots will have a huge impact on our society and sports will certainly not escape to this trend. What to think for example of robot referees? Certainly in combination with sensors and Artificial Intelligence, a robot will be much more precise than a human eye ever can be. It may still take some time, but the robots will come. Robotics as a science is developing very quickly. The time that robots were just steely creatures moving clumsily has long gone. Watch the video below!

Robots are already being able to move like humans and if that’s true, it will be a matter of time before the first robots will challenge humans in playing a game of soccer or any other sports. In fact in some cases robots are already very handy for training purposes. There are robots which serve as ideal dummies in for example rugby or American Football. This way injuries are being avoided! Similarly in the video below you see a robot boxer, that is an ideal sparring partner.But there is more ofcourse. Robots will be common place in the stadiums of the future.

Also interesting to read: 10 ways robots will positively impact sports

7. 4D Cameras

What? 4D? Yes, 4D! Watch the video below and you understand the principle. It is something which is likely to become increasingly popular in the future as it gives you a much better impression of whatis happening. For what purpose? Well there are lots! What about refereeing? It helps the Video Assistant Referee. but think also for purposes like training analysis, for analysts on TV or just for you at home to have a view from a different angle.

8. 3D printing

What to think of all the clever new 3D printing techniques? We are moving closer to damaged bodyparts being replaced by 3D ones. Actually some successes have already been realised by bioscientists that were able to print artificial tissues in 3D helping to heal bone and cartilage typically damaged in sports-related injuries to knees, ankles and elbows. Apparently the all important key is to mimick the tissue that turns gradually from cartilage at the surface to bone (osteo) underneath. No doubt huge progress will be made in the coming few years.

Great news to athletes and clubowners but also for you and me! Where athletes get injured and in some cases see their careers in shambles, this will no longer be the case in the near future. It may even be that the bodypart that is replaced will be better! Is this the arrival of the bionic athlete? In any case, the athlete will be at the forefront of this development again and humanity will benefit, because with the help of 3D your (sporting) life may also be extended!

9. Drones

Drones are like flying eyes. They are already making a huge impact on society and the sports world forms no exception. In fact, the combination of surveillance from the sky, movement, data collection, Artificial Intelligence, lifting power and cameras make a drone ideally suitable for all kind of different applications in sports. Some of these apps should be seen as disruptive, others are totally new and give sports additional incentives. So what you should think of? 

Think of stadium and event logistics (delivery at your seat or replenishments of bars) or game and training analytics. From the sky it will be easier to determine patterns. That is also why in the future refereeing might be aided. But there is more! Drones can provide entertainment and also better security in stadiums. And what about new sports such as drone racing and drone surfing. See the video below.

But also broadcasting will improve because of drones covering the event high from the sky and fly with the action. Last but not least, imagine you are running, canooing or cycling through nature followed by your own drone that is recording your venture. Just like a go-pro, but this time from the sky.

10. 5G

5G will lead to huge changes everywhere we go. 4G already created a landslide but 5G will create an avalanche. The world of sports will benefit big time. It will change the way we experience stadiums and events. In combination with other technologies, 5G will allow for finding that empty parking spot, for automatically entering the stadium without any scans of your ticket, for ordering your food on-line in the stadium.

With high bandwith it will no longer be difficult to quickly upload information. Obviously it will also allow the widescale use of technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality. I am sure your stadium experience will be hugely enhanced in the future  with the arrival of 5G.

I hope I have given you an insight on what is coming. No doubt new technologies will come to the fore. If you are aware on one, please let me know! And……feel free to leave a comment!

Published by Jan Kees Mons

I am Jan Kees Mons. Just call me JK, that’s easier I guess. I am a Dutchman living in the heart of the city of Amsterdam. Right now I am living on my own. However, not for much longer, as I plan to live together with my lovely girlfriend.