The Stadium of Tomorrow

By: Dave Eyre

29, November, 2019

Categories:

5G - 5G conference - Connectivity - IoT - Media - News - Smart Cities -

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Picture this — you are seated somewhere amidst the zillion spectators watching the much-awaited soccer match and no matter where you are seated, you are getting a front-row view of the game. Is it a tad bit unbelievable?

With 5G connectivity, this might soon be a reality.

5G is expected to completely transform the in-stadium experience, much to the delight of fans. From express-speed entries to the stadium to real-time game updates and analytics are some of the 5G-enabled changes that one might experience at a smart stadium. Add to this AR and VR and fans would get an out-of-the-world experience.

So what are we expecting?

Let’s take it from the beginning. You bring your car to the stadium and an app guides you to an available parking slot to suit your requirements (wheelchair accessible). The app is updated in real time. You have your ticket on your phone. The app guides you to the gate for a faster entry or one closest to your seat. You simply have to walk through the gate and your phone automatically communicates your ticket information to the stadium system. You are guided to your assigned seat in minutes and you can also order your snacks and beverages right from your phone! During the match, you get to view the game from the angle you desire from exactly where you are seated. Something like, Mr. Fantastic (Fantastic Four) craning his neck to get the best view, minus the superpowers. Meanwhile, your phone constantly communicates with the stadium systems and perhaps many more, to give you the latest game updates, analysis as well as player health data. If you have a friend joining you for the match, you can use geolocation to find one another. Not to forget, all your social media updates that will be possible in a flash with 5G. And that is just on the stadium. Those watching the match at home will perhaps get an on-stadium experience with AR and VR. Moreover, the billboards on the stadium may be customised based on the geographic location of the at-home viewer.

Where is it being rolled out?

Some of what has been described above has already been trialled. For instance, Barcelona’s Nou Camp Stadium is being transformed to install cameras all around the stadium. Fans watching the match at home will be able to view the match as if they were at the venue using VR glasses. The stadium is being turned into a testbed for monitoring systems to collect data during the games. The 5G network will also be used to offer a virtual tour of the stadium and capture behind-the-scenes action. Tokyo Olympics 2020 is also expected to see 5G deployment. In fact, an Amdocs report has found that 63% of network operators will offer AR and VR experiences at sporting events1. A total of 70% of network operators want the technology ready for major sporting events in 2020. A fourth of the operators intend to introduce 5G at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo2.

What does it entail?

While this may all seem cool, it will entail privacy issues, particularly for the sports teams. Sports personalities will also be vulnerable to threats to their lives. Hacking of critical systems may give rise to a different set of issues, highlighting the need for robust IT security. Additionally, laws will have to be formulated to address the changed sports environment. The distribution of broadcasting rights will undergo a complete transformation. The pricing and allocation of advertising spots (for every channel) will undergo a radical change. Social media will also have to change their terms and policies to address privacy issues. Considering new types of viruses and hacking techniques, it will become all the more difficult for lawyers and investigators to catch culprits and serve justice.

What goes into the development of a 5G-enabled stadium has only been vaguely outlined above. Delve deeper into the nuances of 5G deployment at the upcoming 5G Expo London.

References:

1https://www.techradar.com/in/news/will-5g-solve-signal-issues-at-stadiums-festivals-and-venues

2https://medium.com/instant-sponsor/5g-technology-sports-the-perfect-partnership-3d6f3fa33515

Other references:

https://www.ericsson.com/en/networks/offerings/urban-wireless/connected-stadium

https://www.belden.com/blog/smart-building/stadium-support-5g-capabilities