Technology

The pitch for building connections

Anil Kumble tells us how technology has transformed sport

Tenvic Sports has Anil Kumble’s quintessential vision of developing sports into an ecosystem rather than just focussing on athletes. Tenvic — that stands for to ensure victory — was begun in 2009, with sAMSara, a data platform. It consists of a suite of applications, wearables, and other tech platforms that help sportspeople optimise their career in sport, develop a brand beyond sport, and engage with the ecosystem by leveraging the network effect. Think of it as a sportsperson’s social network, minus the idle banter! “The AMS in sAMSara stands for Athlete Management System. We named the platform as a play on the word samsara, to emphasise that every athlete translates her potential into results because of not only her own talent and effort, but through the support of many people in her network: coaches, support staff, peers, parents, siblings... in other words, her extended family,” says Anil. Here, he talks about the role of technology in sport.

In what way is tech changing the playing of sport?

Data sciences, the Internet of Things, wearables and sensors, augmented and virtual reality are trends that have already changed the way a sport is played today. Strategy and tactics are influenced heavily by data and insights. Sportspersons and teams arrive on the track or field with a deep awareness of their relative advantages and disadvantages vis-a-vis competition. If the arena plays a role in outcomes, athletes have already spent time in simulated environments. Diet, training and post-injury rehabilitation cycles are all much more scientific now, thanks to technology.

One might argue that this is an evolutionary arms race: everyone with equal access to technology is theoretically equipped to better compete against another, thus negating the edge that technology offers. The counter-argument is that even if access was actually equal, the level of excellence in competition goes up several notches, injuries are avoided more effectively, safety is enhanced (in motor-sport for example) and results are fairer (technology assisting the umpire or referee, for instance).

How is it changing the way the viewer experiences it?

At home, the viewer now has access to technology-led innovation, detailed statistical analyses and super-slow-motion replays for example, that enrich their enjoyment of the event and understanding of how it was won or lost.

In the stadium, the viewer has an enhanced experience: their tickets can be validated automatically, they can be guided to pre-reserved parking slots, they can find their way to their seat easily, order food, beverages and merchandise through their mobile, and be treated to jumbotron displays that provide high-definition replays. Several stadia in Europe and the USA now offer immersive viewing rooms inside the stadium, allowing the viewer to feel at home while virtual reality delivers to them a court-side, multi-perspective view.

At home or in the stadium, the fan remains connected to her online sporting community, interacting in conversations and engaged with what the entire ecosystem is saying about the athletes, teams, and events.

A smart stadium
  • Smart stadium solutions ensure enhanced comfort, efficient operations, reduced energy consumption, and longer component lifecycles. Fans engage with the sport ecosystem constantly through a second screen, a mobile device generally. This interaction is through sport- or league-specific mobile apps and also on generic social platforms. Automation, intelligence, and a network with a high-density WiFi platform within the stadium ensure that…
  • Fans remain connected to their ecosystem
  • Cameras recording live action send HD footage to the production room
  • The production room sends footage, graphics, to various screens
  • The jumbo screens and other TV screens receive live and edited footage
  • Digital displays receive their content from the production room
  • Surveillance/access-control interact with the building management system
  • Security systems such as CCTV and motion detection systems can integrate into it
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning), emergency services, public address system, lighting, connect to the command-and-control centre
  • Fire alarm systems and elevators can also connect to allow operators to shut off dampers in ventilation to stop the spread of smoke and park all elevators to prevent use

Why is it that the sporting ecosystem has been an early adopter of technology?

One reason could be that the pay-offs in sport are huge: a .01-second advantage in Formula 1, guessing correctly which way the penalty-taker will kick in a football game... these minute differences translate into instant glory. The pay-offs are not necessarily financial; victory, prestige, and brand recognition all depend on gaining that small edge.

Another could be that the financial support for sport is massive. Fuelled by the passion of fans the world over, several sports and sporting events can boast of virtually-unlimited technology budgets.

Technology companies vie with each other to be associated with big sports brands, to showcase their innovations and enhance their visibility. This means that sportspersons and franchises have unprecedented access to the latest in technology.

Has technology taken away from any part of the game or experience?

I believe that technology helps in making better informed decisions. Yes, it can confuse athletes and muddle their mind. However, data doesn’t lie and needs someone to assimilate and decipher relevant data and portray it in a simple manner that is easily understandable.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 8:11:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/the-pitch-for-building-connections/article25361224.ece

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