Technology is now integrated into most forms of sport. The use of technology in sport is growing so rapidly that it has become a necessity for the majority of high profile events.
The myriad forms of cutting-edge technologies that are being used and refined in sport constantly create new opportunities for all stakeholders. Sport has become a major attraction for venture investors. Investors see in sport a huge market with unparalleled business potential.
This interest has led to the arrival of a number of new start-ups in the sports business. Dedicated sports technology accelerators and venture funds are being launched. Innovative technological solutions have become a source of additional revenue for people in the sports ecosystem.
The history of sports technology in India dates back to the mid 70s with the advent of live broadcasts. In the ensuing decades, broadcasting technology improved phenomenally. Various types of graphics and analyses are now used routinely to understand — and even predict — the outcomes of actions or on-field decisions. Camera replays from different angles and at different speeds help coaches to identify flaws in players& actions and improve their performance through corrective action.On the track, sensitive electronic timers can estimate time differences as low as 0.01 second to determine the winner of an event. In other field events too, technology is being used in referral systems to help referees and umpires take the right decision. Shoes are fitted with a chip to ascertain timing and pressure points.
Chemical technology has made a major contribution to sport through the design and manufacture of clothing and equipment. Speciality chemicals are incorporated into fabrics to manufacture sportswear that creates comfort and keeps the body cool and dry. Advanced technology can be used to manufacture apparel that can measure an athlete’s heart rate, blood pressure, speed, posture, muscle movement and weight distribution. Highly developed polymeric materials are used in clothing, tyres, balls and boots. The way balls need to be designed, their trajectory at different times of the day and season under varying conditions of lighting, temperature and humidity, can all be determined before planning a tournament to ensure best results.
Artificial intelligence and data analytics are being used to predict outcomes under different situations. Each player’s performance can be optimised in the presence of multiple variables through the use of algorithms to achieve the best team result. Cloud services, wearables and drones are increasingly used by sports associations. Sport can no longer be confined to the physical and/or intellectual realms.
It is now very much a digital set up.Smart stadia integrate video cameras, sensors, timers and other forms of integrated technology to enhance spectator comfort in order to draw them back to future events. Those who are physically challenged can now avail of systems that help them cross barrier lines, access wheelchair friendly locations and avail of convenient parking facilities. Immersive technology used in these stadia creates
a surreal viewing experience by blending real action with virtual content.
All this has had an impact on spectator expectations. People who invest time and money to be present at an event expect nothing less than the benefits of the replays, statistics, analyses and predictions they have become used to seeing on television in the comfort of their homes. Hence organisers are constantly on the lookout to incorporate cutting-edge technology both on and off the field to maintain fan engagement.
Security isanother important area where technology is used to ensure maximum player and spectator safety. The last couple of decades have seen massive transformation in sport. It is no longer a traditional industry. Sport now encompasses an entire ecosystem with multiple stakeholders having various levels of engagement. With such high stakes, sponsors line up to have their brands associated with important events. Sports medicine has become a specialised field with doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists devoting their time and expertise to player comfort and performance.
Sports technology is set to revolutionise the entire concept of sport. It is a sunrise industry that will most likely be the next generation solution for economic growth.