September 14th not only marked the first regular season home game for the San Francisco 49ers, but ushered in a new era of smart, constantly-connected sports stadiums as well.
Located just minutes down the road from Atmel headquarters in Santa Clara, California, Levi’s Stadium is the brand-spanking-new home to the Bay Area’s beloved NFL team. Built at a cost of more than $1.2 billion, the recently-opened venue boasts a number of high-tech that would make any geek cheer. For starters, there are 680 free Wi-Fi access points distributed around the stadium (which is nearly one access point for every hundred fans) as well as 12,000 Ethernet ports, all supported by a supersonic 40-Gbps fiber optic connection that delivers broadband speeds 40 times faster than any other stadium.
According to TIME Magazine, this is all possible due to nearly 400 miles of cabling running throughout the structure. In addition, there are almost 1,200 Wi-Fi antennas located throughout the outdoor arena that boost the wireless signal every 100 seats or so. Another cutting-edge feature of the stadium is a collection of about 1,700 beacons, which can be used to know the whereabouts of spectators and provide them with useful, targeted information.
In a recent Broncos pre-season game, the new stadium had 20,000 concurrrent Wi-Fi users, with a peak data usage of over 2 gigabits a second. For three hours, the average was above 1 gigabit per second in terms of usage, VentureBeat reports.
Much like the debut of the Botlr robot, the location of Levi’s Stadium deep within Silicon Valley likely helps enhance the building’s tech credentials. According to TIME, Sony has been a major contributor to the new stadium, contributing over 2,000 TVs, including 70 high-tech 4K units. Some of these flashier features will be obvious to fans, including the two giant scoreboards and 108-inch screen in one of the stadium’s restaurants. However, much of the technology will be hidden from view in a state-of-the-art computer network that would make many a tech startup jealous.
“This is truly a one-of-a-kind fan experience, with the world’s greatest showcase of 4K technology from the best of Sony’s professional and consumer products. For every event, every fan will be immersed in the pinnacle of entertainment and technology to enhance their experience,” Sony COO Mike Fasulo explains.
Additionally, SAP has sponsored a bunch of touchscreen kiosks throughout the venue where fans can partake in 49ers trivia. Using club data housed within the SAP database, fans can tap into three categories (stadium facts, franchise legends and current team) to see how well their team IQ stacks up against other die-hards.
Befitting of a team deep in the heart of Silicon Valley, a true catalyst to changing the stadium experience for the average fan will be the stadium’s smartphone app. The app will allow fans to order food from their seat, which can either be delivered or picked up at an express area. It can provide a live telecast of the game along with up to four on-screen replays and live statistics. Most importantly, it can point you in the direction of the bathroom with the shortest line so that you don’t miss out on any of the action.
“When we talk about tech, we never want to take away from the hero feature, the 11 guys down on the field,” said Al Guido, COO of the 49ers. “Tech has to be ancillary to what is happening on the field. We didn’t want people staring at their phones and not making noise. We need a home field advantage. What we can do is build the infrastructure and tech to enhance the experience.”
A new era of smart stadiums is just dawning, but as fans begin to utilize the new technology and connect during games, there will certainly be new trends and capabilities that develop. As the Internet of Things continues to emerge, it is without question that connected technologies will make the live sporting experience even more enjoyable.
In correlation with these stadiums becoming smarter and more connected, interactive audience participation apps are being increasingly adopted for live, in-stadium events. Because stadiums have built out robust networks to connect their audience, developers have the opportunity to build applications to enable audience members to engage and interact with the game and one another.
According to PubNub, real-time technology has become the stimulus for interactive audience participation apps, enabling developers to deliver data in real-time, whether it be chat messages, statistics, polls, or advertisements. Real-time data streams in a connected stadium is changing the way we view live events. And, with the PubNub Data Stream Network, you can send and receive messages in under a 1/4 second, while adding a plethora of other real-time features to your in-stadium application.