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FIFA, 49ers Read Between the Lines with Connected Tech

July 31, 2013


The sports vertical has been both an early adopter of technology and a laggard. On the one hand, the strides we’ve made in improving athlete performance and professional sports venues have been great (although not always on the up and up). On the other hand, there’s been much hesitance and delay in some circles to use technology to enable more reliable calls and address head injuries as quickly as might have been done.

However, we now have achieved forward momentum on many of these fronts, including more widespread adoption of goal-line technology. The latest convert to embrace goal-line technology is FIFA. The soccer association will use the technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

FIFA recently announced it had selected GoalControl to provide goal-line technology for next year’s World Cup. Other contenders were Cairos, GoalRef and Hawk-Eye, the first two of which leverage magnetic sensor fields, and the third of which uses another camera system and reportedly had been considered the favorite.

GoalControl-4D includes 14 high-speed cameras focused on both goals that capture the ball’s position continuously in three dimensions when it is close to the goal. When the ball passes the goal line, the system sends an encrypted radio signal to the referee’s watch within less than a second.

Speaking of lines, select sports venues are also now leveraging technology to avoid lengthy lines at stadium bathrooms, and food and beverage stands.

For example, the new 49ers Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., which will host Super Bowl in 2016, will have a mobile app to help fans locate the on-premises bathrooms and beer concessions with the shortest lines. This new stadium, which replaces Candlestick Park, also will leverage solar technology.

A blog on the Riggs Distributing Inc. website quotes 49er CEO Jed York as saying: the “app will allow you to watch different replays, see different game feeds, listen to the broadcast of what’s going on. When you’re looking at ordering a hot dog, a beer, a soda, being able to do that from your smartphone [and] potentially having a ticketless, cashless building . . . It doesn’t mean we won’t have tickets, and cash will be accepted, but you want to make sure you [can] use your smartphone device and tablet device for everything. You can leave your wallet at home. It allows you that opportunity.”

Edited by Alisen Downey