In 2013, the National Football League struck a landmark deal with Microsoft that gives Xbox users exclusive interactive access to games each week and requires coaches and coordinators to use Surface tablets on the sidelines. The deal is worth a staggering $400 million over the next five years, which makes one very loud, boisterous statement: Technology is big business in sports.
It isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. Networks and stadiums have been implementing technology designed to enhance the viewer experience for decades. The Jumbotron is a perfect example. Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Kansas City Chiefs, built its in 1991 — 23 years ago. But now, big sports are thinking tech on a much smaller scale, and the newest gizmos and gadgets are poised to change the way we view games and matches forever.
Pro football isn’t done with Xbox’s and tablets; Google Glass, the tech-packed eyewear, could have its place in the NFL soon. There isn’t a deal on paper like Microsoft, but some of the game’s biggest stars have been toying around with Glass on the practice field, and the results are eye-opening. If we could outfit all 22 players on the field with Glass, give them a live feed, and allow viewers (maybe on the Xbox) to switch between players at will, the NFL could give us the freedom we only now get from Madden replays.
Hunting & Shooting
Fringe sports and competitions aren’t letting the big four have all the fun. Networks like the Outdoor Channel regularly air shooting competitions and wild game hunting. Like the NFL, Google Glass could give viewers a new perspective of what it’s like behind the rifle and, like all sports, ignite its youth into taking up shooting for themselves in the future. Plus, it would be nice for the hunter not having to share a tree stand with a cameraman.
Extreme sports like skydiving, base jumping, or anything seen in the X Games are already leading the charge with wearable tech. Big brands like Red Bull use dozens of GoPro cameras to catch every angle in some of the most gorgeous HD, slo-mo footage out there. The best part is that these extreme athletes don’t need a big budget to capture their own impressive footage. Thousands of people are venturing out with their own GoPros, mounting them to their helmets or chest and uploading their own amazing footage.
The next big trend in wearable tech is smartwatches. Samsung already has its own line and Apple is (probably) set to announce its next week. Where will smartwatches find their sports home? NFL quarterbacks could wear them while coaches send in plays at the line of scrimmage, or NASCAR and Formula 1 drivers could use them to read stats on their car (though that info already comes through the radio from the crew chief). Remember the truth with tech: if there is money to be made, then it will find a home in sports.