Silicon Valley Super Bowl Shows Off Cutting Edges in Sports Tech

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2016-02-05
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Silicon Valley Super Bowl Shows Off Cutting Edges in Sports Tech
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    Silicon Valley Super Bowl Shows Off Cutting Edges in Sports Tech

    Super Bowl 50 brings out the latest technology—from the stadium's more than 1,200 WiFi hotspots to virtual helmets of fans' favorite teams.
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    It's First and Foremost, About Football
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    It's First and Foremost, About Football

    Wilson Sports, which came out with a connected basketball a year ago, introduced a similar football, the Wilson X, this week during Super Bowl festivities. The ball uses a low-power Bluetooth technology to connect to a phone app. The basic app that will come with the Wilson X gives the user a quarterback rating based on the ball's rate of spin, the speed and distance of the throw, and whether the spiral is tight or wobbly. During public demonstrations in the Bay Area, Wilson gave players three throws each to score the best rating. The ball can't be recharged, but power is used only when needed; the battery is designed to last two years. No pricing plan has been set yet; it will become available next season.
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    Carolina's Bionic Linebacker Uses Brace Made by 3D Printer
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    Carolina's Bionic Linebacker Uses Brace Made by 3D Printer

    Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis broke his arm in the Panthers' NFC Championship Game victory over the Arizona Cardinals and underwent surgery Jan. 25. Davis now has a metal plate and 12 screws holding together his right arm, but has been practicing "very nicely" according to his coach, thanks to 3D tech. If he plays, it will be the first time an NFL player has used a 3D printed piece of equipment on the field. "Thomas Davis is already the 'bionic man' in our book," said Scott Perone of 3-D Elite, who, along with Whitecloud's 3D Printing, created the one-of-a-kind brace that Davis will wear on Sunday to play in the Super Bowl. "This personalized 3D brace lined with Poron XRD makes him a bit more indestructible." It's made from a composite blend of rigid plastic and rubber-like materials; it is firm yet flexible and provides significant shock absorption.
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    Tracking Every Route, Every Move of the Players
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    Tracking Every Route, Every Move of the Players

    Durham, N.C.-based sports technology company SMT created the yellow first-down lines for football games on television, and they're unveiling new technology that will be used for the Super Bowl. SMT's 3D graphics will monitor data coming in from every player 10 times per second; the new technology will quickly analyze it and predict the chances of success on any given play. Information like this typically wasn't made available for several days, but the new technology makes it available live.
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    Augmented Reality
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    Augmented Reality

    During the pre-Super Bowl 50 activities in San Jose and San Francisco, fans paying admission fees of $25 to $75 got a chance to use new augmented reality headsets from several companies that offered virtualized information about players' running, throwing and receiving motions. Coaches and athletes can use these devices for improving economy of motion and, therefore, performance.
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    Levi's Stadium Security
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    Levi's Stadium Security

    Security will be at a very high level on Super Bowl Sunday. The federal Department of Homeland Security has designed it a Level 1 threat event, meaning it has the highest priority for security. San Jose, Calif.-based Allied Telesis has come up with a connected network application that connects the local Valley Transit Authority network, which runs all public transit in the area, and all its security cameras with the security command post inside Levi's Stadium. If there is a threat of some kind anywhere in the vicinity of the stadium, law enforcement at all levels will be on the same video page to counteract the problem.
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    Opening Night Tech
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    Opening Night Tech

    At the SAP Center in San Jose during the pre-event festivities, thousands of fans bought tickets ranging from $25 to $75 and up to sit and watch interviews with players on the Jumbotron, take photos of players and coaches, and tweet and SnapChat their impressions to friends and family members. They watched videos of previous Super Bowl moments and recorded their own videos as keepsakes. Those who paid top dollar got to meet their heroes in person for selfies.
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    Helmet Kiosk
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    Helmet Kiosk

    Here's a simple but fun tech item that fans will see at the stadium: A kiosk that will view and size a person's face, and then place the image into the fan's favorite team helmet. When the image is ready, the fan hits a button, adds his/her email address, and the image is sent to him/her in seconds to hopefully become a valued keepsake.
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    Tracing the Performance of Super Bowl Ads
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    Tracing the Performance of Super Bowl Ads

    Dynatrace will be measuring the Web and mobile site performance of the Super Bowl advertisers live during Super Bowl 50 and will provide a "Performance Bowl" analysis of the top and bottom performing advertisers. Dynatrace will also monitor other related sites, including betting/gaming and fantasy football sites and more. For more details, view the prep-game blog here. The Dynatrace "Performance Bowl" will be tracking NFL Websites, ticket sites, team sites, betting/gaming/fantasy football sites, the official broadcaster site and, of course, advertiser sites.
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    Good Advice on Using Stadium WiFi
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    Good Advice on Using Stadium WiFi

    Despite the fact that the stadium will have 1,200 WiFi hot spots in operation all day on Super Bowl Sunday, and because virtually everybody will be trying to take SnapChat or regular photos and send them to friends and family around the world, connections will be slow. Xirrus, which designs and sells wireless networking equipment, offered eWEEK the following advice: 1) if possible, download the 49ers' WiFi app before going to the game; 2) beware that the strongest signal at the game may be a spoof, and not the stadium's WiFi; and 3) avoid sending any personal credit card information over the Internet while at the game.
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    Live Interactive Meetup Saturday With Former Super Bowl Hero
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    Live Interactive Meetup Saturday With Former Super Bowl Hero

    Blue Jeans Network and NFL quarterback Drew Brees will be celebrating Super Bowl 50 with a live, interactive video event over Blue Jeans Primetime, and you are invited. On Saturday, Feb. 6, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT, Blue Jeans Primetime will host Brees for a video broadcast "Big Game Chalk Talk."This event will bring football fans across the country into the action and offer direct communication with one of the NFL's most popular champions. Register here (copy and paste into your browser): http://pages.bluejeans.com/Drew-Brees-Super-Bowl-Event-Registration-Press.html
 

It figures that staging a Super Bowl right smack in the middle of Silicon Valley (Santa Clara, Calif., home of Intel and dozens of other companies) is going to bring out the best in tech, so that the neighborhood can show the world what it's made of. That is certainly the case at Super Bowl 50 in which the Denver Broncos will meet the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 7.  Virtually all facets of the event are smothered in technology—everything from the weeklong pre-game events in which eagerly paying fans went into rooms wearing virtual reality gear and "experienced" what it's like being on the field with 60,000 people watching, to simply getting a decent WiFi connection to send a SnapChat photo during the game (which will be extremely difficult, by the way). The hosting San Francisco 49ers, thanks in large part to partnerships with SAP and Verizon, are very tech-oriented. The stadium will deploy more than 1,200 WiFi hot spots. Fans can go to kiosks to compete in Super Bowl trivia games, and they can try on a virtual helmet of their favorite team. This eWEEK slide show offers some more facets of tech at SB50.

 
 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 

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