The use of technology within sport has evolved impressively throughout the modern era, shaping the way audiences interact with our beloved teams and players. Technology has even altered the sports themselves, with general consensus in favour of the modifications.
One sport that has resisted the use of high-tech assistance until late is football (for our US readers… soccer). Goal-line technology has only recently been introduced, to great affect, and we have watched the use of vanishing spray quietly settle the argument of encroachment. However there are still some fundamental areas of sport that are operating in the Stone Age. At DocuSign we like to celebrate the innovation that makes our lives better, so here’s our take on 6 of the most significant sporting areas that technology has improved upon.
Let’s face it, referees need all the help they get. Fortunately, umpire/refereeing review systems have been implemented in the likes of AFL (aussie rules), baseball, cricket, rugby and tennis for a number of years, using pioneering technology such as the Decision Referral System (DRS), Hawk-Eye and Hot Spot to help officials make the right call.
Clothing & Equipment
Computing power applied to areas such as motion capture and 3D modeling have revolutionised the design of equipment, footwear and clothing. The Adidas MiCoach system has been utilised by a number of European rugby teams and Major League Soccer teams during practice sessions and official competitions. The system tracks athletes’ heart rate, speed, jump height, distance ran, and other data. This has been achieved with the use of miniaturised GPS, gyroscopes and accelerometers that have been implanted into a small system that is lodged in athletes’ jerseys and in some cases in their boots. Which leads on to…
Practice isn’t just practice anymore, it’s analysis. Advances in video and body-measurement technologies, coupled with progressively distinguished software and data, permit athletes to break down their every movement, and to be more in touch with the workings of their bodies than ever before.
Ubersense, an app from a US-based startup, offers real-time video analysis and feedback via any smartphone or tablet. Through the app, every twist, turn, trick or swing is captured—and shared with the athlete virtually straightaway. Trainers can upload and evaluate the recording in a matter of minutes using slow motion, tracing and other comparison tools before sending it back to other coaches.
Today’s billion-pound sports palaces have taken live spectatorship to a new level with giant high-definition screens, heated seats, wireless in-seat food orders, and in the case of Centre Court at Wimbledon – turning previously outdoor sports indoor!
Sport has been transformed by the growth of E-commerce. Gone are the days of paper tickets as fans can buy them smoothly online, in a mobile digital format, within minutes. And in a major new evolution for wearable technology, Barclaycard and Southampton Football Club recently signed an agreement to distribute bPay bands to fans and expand the band’s functionality beyond contactless payments. This development brings the reality of an ‘all-in one’ cashless stadium device – combining payment technology with fans’ season tickets and stadium access – a step closer.
Sports and the media that cover them, have taken advantage of the Internet and wireless devices to ensure that their product is never more than a click away. The advent of high-definition TV has brought the games into our living rooms with eye-popping detail, with broadcasters upping their coverage in turn; making the post-match pub debate more civilized than ever.
Possibly the furthest technology-fueled transformation has been in the relationship between fans, media, and the athletes themselves. The dawn of blogs and social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook have empowered athletes, sports writers, columnists, and the public to engage directly in real-time discourse – for better or worse.
The Future of Technology Within Sport
The future of sport and technology is unquestionably bright. While there have been pioneering advances in the participation of sport, there still lies potential for improvement in the adoption of technology within the back-offices of sports clubs and their governing bodies.
A perfect example of this is the opening of European football transfer window, which can be an administrative nightmare. Football managers are left pulling out what little hair they still possess as deals fall through at the last minute as a result of the incumbent tasks of faxing, printing and scanning documents. The rush of transfers as the deadline reaches its peak means clubs often miss out on signings as paperwork fails to be put through to the relative bodies before the deadline expires.
The rise of electronic signatures is transforming the way sports organisations overcome such hurdles. Electronic signatures can enable senders and signers to access documents wherever they are in the world, on any device, and eliminate the need to post, fax, scan and print contracts for signing. Thus making it easy for contracts to be signed off without battling the redundant processes that are currently influencing multi-million pound contracts.
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