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5G is Changing How You Watch Sports: Get Ready for the Future

by Suzanne Kantra on April 11, 2024

If you're a racing fan, it always seems like all the action happens on the opposite side of the track. But what if you could see all the action in real-time from every angle? With cameras covering every inch of the track and a high-speed data network, you could always have the best view in the house.

Concept drawing of person watching car racing with AR headset

This is just one example of what Verizon is working to help bring to market, and I got a glimpse of it at their recent 5G demo day. From augmented reality applications that provide real-time player stats and analysis to personalized multi-camera viewing options that let you control the action, Verizon showcased a range of game-changing experiences for sports fans.

Verizon's significant contribution to these proof-of-concept fan experiences is the company's 5G network technology. 5G offers low latency (which refers to the delay between sending and receiving data), high bandwidth, and the ability to handle massive amounts of data in real-time. It's perfect for video and augmented reality applications that require huge amounts of data.

However, on race day or game day, today's 5G networks can become congested, so Verizon is exploring several ways to ensure there is sufficient bandwidth. They might reserve bandwidth for specific customers or applications through network slicing, or they could establish a dedicated 5G network. With these protections in place, the latency is low enough to allow for near-instantaneous transmission of data, enabling real-time interactions and personalized viewing experiences.

Read more: Android Finally Gets Its Own "Find My" Network

Personalized viewing

I was intrigued by Verizon's demonstration of its Multi-View personalized viewing experience, which allows you to choose from multiple camera angles. I can see this feature being particularly useful for sports like auto racing, where the action is spread out over a large area. Fans could follow their favorite drivers throughout the race, getting up close and personal with every turn and straightaway without missing a single moment of the excitement.

In the demo, I saw seven video feeds from a Formula 1 track, and you could choose one feed to watch in a larger window. Not only is it fun to control what you see, but the feed is also faster than if you were at home watching TV. Verizon explained, "The latency from the time something happens on the track or on the field to what you see on your mobile device is less than a second, and I mention this because the latency is often much faster than the actual broadcast feed itself."

Screenshot of Verizon 5G Multi-View showing a Formula 1 race.

While I can see how Multi-View could be game-changing, I also recognize some potential downsides. With so many camera angles, it could be easy to get lost on your phone trying to follow a specific driver, potentially missing key moments of the race. Another consideration is the cost of implementing and accessing these personalized viewing experiences, which may involve additional fees or subscriptions.

Read more: Understanding Chrome's Incognito Mode: What It Does & Doesn't Protect

Augmented reality experiences

The other proof-of-concept demo that I found promising was augmented reality. The idea is that when you attend an NHL game, you'd wear an AR headset, giving you access to real-time player tracking, instant replays, and detailed stats like skating speed and time on ice.

As Verizon described it, "Every player in the NHL wears a sensor, which is an RF tracking technology, and we have an AR application that consumes all this data, ingesting it in real-time and then rendering it on top of this low-latency video feed."

However, not everyone will want to wear an AR headset to live events. Some fans may find the additional information and digital overlays distracting and that they detract from the larger shared experience of being with other fans.

While there's no launch date for these new fan experiences, Verizon is working with Formula 1, the NHL, and others to make them a reality. Stay tuned. This future may be here sooner than you think.

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[Image credit: fan watching car racing with AR headset created with DALL-E by OpenAI, Techlicious]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.


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