Panther Tracks

Technology may bring NFL players into living room

A monitor shows a technology idea as participants speak during a news conference about the role of technology in the NFL Tuesday, in San Francisco. With the 50th Super Bowl days away, the NFL is looking toward the future and how technology can change the game on the field and how it's viewed by fans over the next half-century. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A monitor shows a technology idea as participants speak during a news conference about the role of technology in the NFL Tuesday, in San Francisco. With the 50th Super Bowl days away, the NFL is looking toward the future and how technology can change the game on the field and how it's viewed by fans over the next half-century. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) AP

With a Super Bowl game in Silicon Valley, the NFL provided a glimpse Tuesday into the technology under development to revolutionize the viewer experience.

Cameras in the quarterback’s helmet, telemetry tracking movements on the field and player biometrics are all under study for future game coverage, a panel of players and tech executives revealed.

Microsoft sponsored a competition among fans to come up with ideas for the next 50 years of the sport, and some of the best ideas include hologram replays on the coffee table in front of the TV like the chess game aboard the Millennium Falcon in “Star Wars” and up-close views of players in life-size action in the living room.

“Technology has empowered fans to get more into the game,” said Mike Nichols, corporate vice president of marketing for Xbox at Microsoft. Already, he said, 70 percent of NFL fans at home watch the games with a second screen like phones or computers open during games.

One idea would allow fans at the stadium to point their phones at the field and see the yellow first-down line projected on the screen. Another would guide fans to concession stands with the shortest lines.

Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews, who moderated the panel, suggested that app be upgraded to guide fans to the shortest bathroom lines.

Already, chips in uniform pads are being tested that track positional data of players on the field.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees noted that one Panther player – wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. – had been clocked at running 20 mph with the technology.

“Unfortunately, we saw that too much this year,” said Brees, whose team fell twice to the Panthers this season.

Hall of famer Joe Montana, who was a judge for the Microsoft Imagine Bowl competition, said helmet cameras would amaze fans who could see what quarterbacks are looking at – and just what they can’t see.

“You could see the quarterback use his head and eyes to move players around,” he said.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs

  Comments