Here in San Francisco, we are passionate about sports. Just check the TV ratings. That passion has merged with our fascination with technology to produce a growing list of applications that make sports safer and more fun to watch.
Technology has become an integral part of sports, both for participants and viewers. Athletes are using technology to play smarter or safer, and viewers are getting an increasingly immersive experience, both at the stadium and in the home.
This often creates a conundrum for sports leagues: How much should they embrace technology? Instant replay, for example, is an accepted part of American football, while baseball holds it at arm's length.
Greater proliferation, adoption
One of the earliest uses of technology was in horse racing, where thoroughbreds often crossed the finish line simultaneously and were moving so fast the human eye often couldn't distinguish winner from runner-up.
Assuming gambling had as much as influence on technology adoption as it has other sports, stop-motion cameras were rolled out at racetracks around the world.
What follows are nine of the most amazing technologies that sports and athletes have adopted. Click on the image below to check them out.
HeroCam took the world by storm when it was introduced. The tiny HD camera was quickly lashed to helmets, parachutes, racecars, motorcycles, and anything else from which a cool image could be captured. Enter Contour, which takes the technology up a notch. Contour's HD cameras have built-in GPS for trip, elevation, and distance tracking and Bluetooth capability to control a camera remotely. Apps are available to create multimedia stories that include video, data and maps.
I agree, Rob. There's been a gigantic technology change in sports broadcasting. I can't even remember what it was like to watch a fotball game without stopping for a review. Of course, the networks love the review because they can insert a commercial or two while the refs are looking at the replay.
I don't know, Chas - the ump is part of the "mystique" of the game for me. Sure there are bad calls but both sides have to contend with it...I guess I'm just old fashioned but I think that technology should be limited in the sports arena. But then I don't even like seeing those computer generated first down markers - the guys on the sidelines with the markers and chains were always good enough for me LOL I think there are some really cool applications here and I can't tell you how many times I have played tennis, stared right at the ball, and when hubby called out across the court to me "Was it in?" all I could say was, "Uhhh...I don't know" so I definately see the value - just not sure in some cases that we really need to go there.
Calling strikes could probably be done in nearly "real time" if there were two video cameras located someplace behind home plate. They would see where the ball passed by the batter, and the algorithm to compare the balls location with the strike zone scaled to the batter's stature, and it could be a simple red light-green light output. Of course it could also show the pitch in slow motion with the strike window displaed in added graphics. The network TV people would love that part. And probably the system could report it's call as fast as the umpire could speak. That part would be quite entertaining.
Utiilization of technology to help with ball and strike calls is a neat idea, but it would definitely slow down a game that by many is considered to be too slow already. Maybe a red flag system as used in the NFL that limits the amount of allowed challenges would be a good thing.
It's been pretty fun to see the technologies evolve in the sports world. A lot of the developments are also the result of cross polllination with medical industries. There is probably a whole book's worth of stories covering this subject. Thanks for the "taste".
Brian--Excellent post. I think we all can agree that technology has provided tremendous value added to sports in general. I think improvement in equipment alone has been absolutely tremendous from football helmets to tennis rackets composed of carbon fibers. I think it's represents a great marriage and hopefully the trend will continue. This past summer, my wife and I visited Cowboy Stadium a few miles outside of Dallas. The scoreboard alone was worth the visit. This also is an example of technology, cutting edge technology, applied to the "games we play". Again, really good post.
Yes, Chuck, the technology of covering sports has greatly advanced in recent years. Even the talking-heads news shows have changed. The cameras no longer have camera people behind them. They're run remote control from the production booth.
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