IoT Blog
IoT Blog

How the IoT is Transforming Sports Fans’ Stadium Experience

by Gus Vos, Chief Engineer, Technology Standards
This weekend, thousands of football fans will descend on stadiums across the United States to watch the NFL kick off a new season. As they head to the stadium and through the gates to their seats, the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices will enhance this experience in multiple ways – enabling them to get to the game faster using their connected cars’ navigation system, to get into the stadium more efficiently with ticket takers using wireless devices to scan their tickets, and to check on the status of their fantasy football team on their smart phone during the game. 

However, new Low Power Wide Area and 5G technologies could soon further transform NFL fans’ stadium experience. LPWA technologies, such as LTE-M and NB-IOT, enable development of lower cost IoT devices that consume less power. They also allow IoT solutions to transmit data to a high number of connected devices in a condensed area, and provide better cellular connectivity deep into large buildings, like stadiums. Meanwhile 5G New Radio (NR) provides access to new mmWave spectrum, which allows IoT solutions to transmit data at ultra-fast speeds to a massive number of connected devices in a stadium, mall or similar-sized area.

Consider the following possibilities:
  • Finding parking at a stadium is often difficult, and it can be especially problematic if you plan on hosting a tailgate party and your fellow fans are not sure where to find you and your famous beer-soaked bratwurst. However, new LPWA technologies reduce the cost of IoT devices, enabling the deployment of smart parking solutions that were not previously economically feasible. These IoT parking solutions could use connected devices placed in each parking space to allow you to reserve a specific parking space before the game, update a sign located at the parking spot to designate it as reserved, alert stadium security if someone else parks there, direct your connected car to the space, and even guide your guests to your tailgate party, making it easier for you to get those brats quickly on the grill and into the bellies of your fellow fans.
  • LPWA technologies could also enable you to pick up a beer or soda cup that does much more than commemorate a recent championship or player’s Hall of Fame induction. Because LPWA IoT devices are smaller, less expensive and use less power, stadiums could embed them into “connected cups” that they light up after the home team scores – not just during that day’s game, but throughout the entire season. You could even direct your connected cup to alert a nearby beer or soda vendor when it is empty, so they know to head your way to provide a quick refill.
  • If you are like most fans, you fear missing the game’s biggest play when you leave your seat to go to the concession stand or restroom. However, with new LPWA-enabled sensors and Device to Cloud (D2C) platforms, the stadium could offer an app that provides you with estimated wait times for nearby concession stands and restrooms. You could even use the app to order your food (nachos, extra jalapenos please), so it is waiting for you when you get to the concession stand.  
  • Another possible IoT solution enabled by LPWA is a wearable IoT device embedded in a player’s uniform or pads to monitor the impact of tackles, heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. So rather than seeing your star player perform sluggishly late in the game, such a device could help coaches and trainers make sure the player gets the rest and hydration he needs to be able to streak by his defender to catch the winning score in the fourth quarter.
  • What an amazing catch! Want to see a replay of it from different camera angles? With 5G NR technologies able to deliver huge capacity and very high speeds to thousands of devices within a given area (like a football stadium), you may have that option, along with tens of thousands of other fans. And if you happened to be in line at the nacho stand or restroom during the big play? Well, while nothing can beat seeing the play from your seat, at least you were able to catch it in real time from your smartphone as you waited in line.

Of course, some of the most exciting new NFL stadium applications have not even been thought of yet, or are buried deep in the mind of an IoT developer. Which is why Sierra Wireless has been leading the effort to accelerate IoT solution development with its Linux-based Legato® open source software and mangOH® open source hardware platforms for IoT solution development. Legato simplifies IoT solution software development while mangOH delivers 90 percent of an IoT solution prototype out-of-the-box. Together they enable developers to focus their time and resources on building new, groundbreaking IoT solutions that enhance the NFL stadium experience, allowing them to create proof of concepts for these new IoT solutions that much quicker. 

Then, once these developers have moved beyond proof of concept, they can use Sierra Wireless’s D2C platform -- consisting of an integrated portfolio of IoT hardware, software, cloud and connectivity – to quickly test and deploy the solution. In fact, with Sierra Wireless’s end-to-end D2C platform, once they have successfully deployed the IoT solution in NFL stadiums, they can easily modify and scale the solution for soccer, cricket and other types of sports stadiums around the world. 

Start with Sierra to learn more about how Sierra Wireless LPWA modules, D2C platform, mangOH open source IoT hardware and other solutions empower you to reimagine not just the future of connected stadiums, but the future of an increasingly connected world.