Eavesdropper: The games we play

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November 2, 2020 3:00 AM

NTT’s application of sensors and use of data for Tour de France shows how far we can take technology in sports

The extent of innovations is limited, but Formula 1 racing has converted every aspect of the sport into a technology-driven experience.The extent of innovations is limited, but Formula 1 racing has converted every aspect of the sport into a technology-driven experience.

It’s been nearly two decades since cricket adopted a new technology called Hawk-Eye to give viewers a more immersive experience. The technology would determine the ball’s trajectory and develop more user engagement. In 2006, the technology was adopted by tennis; snooker used it in 2007, and soccer has been using it since 2012.

The extent of innovations is limited, but Formula 1 racing has converted every aspect of the sport into a technology-driven experience. Both to aid teams in improving their performance and in enhancing the consumer experience.

However, other sports are catching up and fast. In a recent discussion with Lux Rao, senior director, Solutions & Consulting, NTT Ltd (India) explained how the company has been helping Tour de France to make the sport more interactive. NTT, which has been in association with Tour de France, for nearly half a decade now has deployed sensors and connected teams and viewers with technology.

NTT claims that their model was able to track 2.5 million records per stage worth 800 MB of data. The real-time data enrichment was 53 additional attributed per record. The enhanced real-time data volume per stage was 2.7 GB. The company claims that 100 trillion individual decisions made during Tour de France. So, the model ultimately took into account 225 million possible decisions per prediction.

Cricket and tennis are also changing the game. Shot selection, ball tracking are becoming common, as are player stats like temperature, heartbeat, etc.

However, sensors still have a long way to go to change the nature of sports. Like for Tour de France, most of the data has to be relayed to models and computers using satellite internet, which has its limitations in terms of speed and cost.

Elon Musk and others may have a solution soon. Starlink project, which proposes high speeds from satellite internet at low costs, will change the game.

Another challenge is the speed of computing. Net speeds and access problems aside, another challenge for sports will be to decide what to stream and what they can hold back.

ishaan.gera@expressindia.com

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