5G could be the tech that makes sports events more immersive in future

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5G has been touted an an enabler of a myriad technologies, outside of simply driving the next wave of flagship smartphone sales. The Internet of Things (IoT) for one that has been eulogised for some time, and while we wait for that to truly come to fruition, on the entertainment side of things, sports events stand to benefit from 5G too.

We’re not talking about better bandwidth of higher quality viewing, although that is one aspect, but rather enriched and immersive viewing experiences.

This according to Kevin Murphy, VP and head of Ericsson Levant Countries and Global Customer Unit Ooredoo, who recently shared his thoughts on the matter. 

New point of view

One contributing factor of people wanting a more enriched digital experience has been the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many to turn online instead of in-person when it comes to events for work, social and sporting.

“The increase in virtual events is raising the bar for the quality and design of the experience, with audiences becoming increasingly sophisticated, demanding a more social, innovative and engaging event,” says Murphy.

“To transform the digital experience for fans, players and support staff alike, three main types of support is required: a sports performance information system; a digital experience backend system; and technology consulting and innovation services,” he adds.

Powered by 5G, Murphy points to virtual and augmented reality to provide the aforementioned immersive experience.

“The combination of 5G, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) supports completely new user experiences in sports – pushing boundaries and taking the consumer to the heart of the game itself. For a team playing before a packed stadium or a lonesome runner on a forest track, connectivity and mobility enable new values in an emerging internet of sport,” he enthuses.

Comfort of the couch

“This is where 5G can be a vital tool for the sports sector, as it seeks to re-invent the fan experience at home and at the sports arena. Sporting events could better serve both the traveling fan attending every game in person and the die-hard fan catching the game remotely,” Murphy highlights.

He goes on to note that live streaming video, mixed reality experiences and real-time access to information about the game, will become far easier thanks to the connectivity provided by 5G.

It will, however, be up to stadium owners, broadcasters and sports teams to leverage technology too in order to deliver such experiences.

“There is potential to create more immersive fan experiences with the introduction of 360-degree cameras, virtual and augmented reality. Fans can walk the sideline, see what the goalkeepers are seeing or join the victory celebration in the locker room – all serving the purpose of bringing fans closer to the action at the venue from home,” Murphy posits.

Smart stadiums

It is not just at home where 5G will hold value either, according to Murphy, who says that the broadband standard can help create smart city-esque environments within the stadium for fans on match days.

“Where fans today see broadband connectivity to their smartphone for social media posts as table stakes, there is so much more that could be done digitally to connect fans to the action. This is an area where 5G can improve the overall experience, compared to standard WIFI solutions,” he says.

5G can expand the experience for fans at the game, creating new possibilities by connecting sensors in balls, goals, and even players – all in real-time with extremely low latency. The next generation technology can deliver enough capacity to the stadium for fans to stream high-quality video and share the views from their seats with others at the same match,” he concludes.

While 5G is viewed as a key element to improving access to information, empowering the edge and making the transfer of data in general much faster, there is also something to be said about how it will impact how we consume entertainment as well.

With Ooredoo headquartered in Qatar, perhaps the 2022 FIFA World Cup will prove a good testing ground for the experiences that Murphy has outlined.

[Image – Photo by Aksh yadav on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.