Experiencing Sports using Technology

A recent issue of IEEE Pervasive Computing has multiple articles on the use of pervasive technology in sports. The linked article is the introduction to the special section on these articles. It describes some research projects applied to sports. The one that controls MP3 during exercise based on heart rate is particularly interesting.

Sports are very experiential. And very emotional. Technology has always been adopted very rapidly in sports. Technology may help people feel that they are experiencing sports in the best possible way from best possible location. This quest for the best and most compelling experience continues. Some of the more interesting innovations in this area have been the ‘first down line’ in American Football on TV. On web there have been many efforts to bring many compelling experiences. Clearly the quality of live and archived sports on the Web has been improving. Baseball allows you to view TV broadcast of most of the games.

PRAJA, a company I cofounded with C.K. Prahalad initially addressed sports applications and developed Web technology for Football, Soccer, Basketball, and Cricket that was before its time. Slow adoption of broadband until 1999 and difficulty in finding correct business model resulted in our changing our business direction and forced us to go to enterprise applications rather than sports. In my humble biased opinion, even today there are no systems that provided the quality of experience to sports fans that those systems provided in 1999 and before that.

Based on our experience in PRAJA with sports fans, it is clear that people love compelling experiences even of archived games to see highlights of their choice repeatedly. I don’t understand why this has not been experimented with by cable and sports companies. With so many people counting on video on phones as a major application, clearly personalized sports highlights could be a major application.

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