As a former amateur footballer, not much beats the thrill of a live match. But now that I’m in the stadium seat rather than on the field, I pay particular attention to the venue and the overall experience. And there’s a big difference depending where in the world you may be cheering your team on in these early and exciting days of the connected stadium experience.
With a smart device in practically everyone’s pocket and the advancements in radio, cloud and analytics technologies, even the spectator sportworld is going digital faster than ever. This spells new opportunities to make the in-venue experience more compelling for fans by blending the physical experience with digital augmentation. Visitors can be engaged with immersive smart applications, making a high performance network the “X-factor” here.
Today’s sports fans take connectivity for granted so they can share videos and images throughout a match. Flawless network experience for mass audiences is a must-have requirement for any stadium today, but sports fans are looking for more. And 5G is the technology that will enable a LOT more, with remarkable improvements to network speed, capacity and latency. But rather than wait for it to arrive, Nokia is already bringing 5G-like experiences to stadiums around the world.
New technologies such as Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), bring in new experience enhancing personalized services for stadium goers, like in-venue apps for parking information, finding or upgrading your seats, or monitoring lines to the food concessions and restrooms. Real-time analytics can also engage sports fans in a new way. What about monitoring the pulse of your favorite athlete, directly from his wearable, just before taking a crucial penalty kick? Or getting closer to the action with live close-ups of behind-the-scenes celebrations of the winning team, or an instant replay of that one goal you happened to miss. All this directly from your smartphone at the stadium.
But it’s not only the sports fans who benefit from the smart stadium development. Digitalization can bring new revenue streams for venue owners and operators from enhanced fan experience and advertising. Also improved operational control and situational awareness can significantly enhance stadium safety and security.
While these are just a few examples of the myriad opportunities ahead, Nokia is excited to be collaborating with customers like Nordic operator Telia, on the new Telia 5G Arena. In June, Finnish soccer fans were treated to one of the first virtual reality OZO live streaming productions in the country during a local football league game. The response from the fans was extremely positive. Meanwhile across the ocean at the University of Notre Dame stadium in the US, Nokia teamed up with the Wireless Institute in the College of Engineering to successfully test next-generation wireless applications.
Stadiums don’t just compete with each other but also with the TV experience - getting people off the couch. While people enjoy attending live events, they don't want to give up the connectivity and media rich experiences they have at home. The smart-stadium brings you both and takes it to the next level, creating more business opportunities and a better experience. And the OZO Live broadcast deployed together with Telia is excellent proof of how user experience in mass events can be improved with existing network technologies, on the path to 5G.
Hope to see you at Mobile World Congress Americas on 14 September, where my colleague Chris Stark will speak about the 5G stadium and enhancing fan engagement.
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