I love sports, there is something uniquely special about seeing two teams delivering a remarkable piece of entertainment under the highest public scrutiny and more pressure in 90 mins than most of us experience in a lifetime.
I marvel at how elite sports people perform under such pressure, how they can keep their head in the game when there is so much on the line, results, fans, careers, bank balances for not just themselves but all of the employees of the organisations. When you peel it all back there is so much at stake that relies on the right decision being made in the right moment, the knock on effect can be the difference between success or failure on grand magnitude.
Unfortunately for too many years these decisions have been left up to interruption of humans and we all know that with humans comes human error from time to time. Mistakes are inevitable but these days or inevitability are surely soon to be a thing of the past. Technology like wearables, nanosenors, data and A.I. will turn this industry into one big level playing field.
However as utopian as that all sounds it isn't quite that easy as with any technology implementation it takes time, a lot of trial and error, compliance and governance to make it seamless. Then you need to get a number or sporting bodies in a number of geographical locations to implement and then apply across their sporting code. Good luck with that, just look at the controversy the "Decision Review System (DRS)" that has tried to be implemented into international cricket and you will see how difficult it is to bring change.
The future of tech in sport is not just about the officiating but a lot more than meets the eye. Athletes and coaches are now able to gain more data and deeper understanding on all elements of performance, this is changing the way teams play the game, strategise and even the way players develop throughout a game and if their vitals are off or they are under threat of exposure to injury. The mind boggles when you start to think what technology can do to change the way we manage sporting teams of the future.
Don't forget us though, the fans, we now have more and more access to information about our super heros. We can assess their training methods, watch their pre game activities or get real data to their vitals as the game goes on. You can even get a haptic jersey that receives real data from smart sensors on our favourite players on the field. The day will come when we will be able to experience sport like we are actually in the game, choose our viewpoints, enjoy over a application of our preference and feel the experience we are so addicted too.
At the end of the day as sports fans we love the drama, we love the fight, we crave for that adrenaline rush that only the excitement of sport can offer us, the overtime touch down in the super bowl or the penalty shoot out to decide the world cup, if technology gets us all there with a deeper and richer experience then i for one will be all for it and may the best team win!
Does all of this sound speculative? It is, but not as much as you might think when you take a look around the world of professional sports. “Precursor” technologies that provide the sensory input data for yet-to-be-invented AI algorithms are already in use. The distance between today’s smart sensors and tomorrow’s fully automated officiating is closing fast. We didn't see AI refs in Super Bowl LI, but the question of whether there’s room for automated officials in the NFL and other professional sports is quickly becoming a matter of policy, not technology.