Approximately 114.4 million people tuned in to watch the New England Patriots’ victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Super Bowl XLIX is destined to be the most remembered Super Bowl, and not because of the fan base.
The Patriots win of 2002 pales to their win of 2015.
The buildup to the Super Bowl may have been dominated by controversy (deflated footballs, anyone?), but the Super Bowl itself has ushered into the age of sports technology. Being a company that uses technology to improve businesses, we are fascinated by the growing use of technology on the sports fields and of this year’s “High Tech Super Bowl”.
Technology on the Football Field
In 2002, we weren’t able to peek over Tom Brady’s shoulder as he called the plays. It wasn’t until 2003 that the NFL started using Skycam and Cablecam, the cable-mounted systems that loom overhead to capture the action on the field.
Seeing highlights from the game is one thing. Being able to see and hear the reactions of players and coaches is another thing entirely. Pete Carroll’s reaction to the Malcolm Butler interception and the Patriots flocking to Butler as he comes off the field are certain to be replayed for years.
In action for this game were several 4K cameras, enhancing the images so sharply that they can be blown up numerous times, making it THE ideal technology for instant replays.
XLIX is also the year Zebra Technologies joined the NFL. Zebra’s innovative radio chips inside player uniforms instantly track their speed and movement patterns on every play.
Sensors lined up along the catwalk above field gather data from the chips on the players as well as in the AHEM game balls. A team of Zebra employees work to gather the data to display on the video boards and send to the broadcast booth.
Technology on the Sidelines
Technology has found it’s way to the sidelines, too. Thanks to a $400 million sponsorship with Microsoft, coaches are now using Surface tablets. The Surface tablet enables coaches to quickly review plays and make corrections as opposed to the playbooks of the old days.
For the past three seasons, NFL has deployed injury analysts that use instant replay gear and software that can tag video clips of the hardest tackles. The analyst transmits those images to the athletic trainer on the sidelines, who can assess the situation.
In the Stands or On the Sofa
Technology certainly enhances the fan experience for both the couch crowd and those seeing the game in person. Since fans in both atmospheres follow the game on their smartphones, the NFL equipped all stadiums with high-quality Internet, charging stations, and cellular data connections.
Eventually the NFL hopes to be able to publish the data collected from the Zebra chips during games, so fans can use their smartphones to chart the performance of their favorite athletes.
For the first time ever, NBC broadcasted the entire 11-hour Super Bowl hoopla…for free. On any computer, iOS, Android, or Windows tablet, you could watch all the commercials, the pre-game, and after game wrap-up. NBC has also created a Tumblr page for the commercials so you can watch them all again.
What do you think of technology in the Super Bowl and sports in general? Does it improve the sport? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!