Thursday, February 12, 2009

Technology in the Real World

In an effort to look at uses of technology in the real world, I thought we'd look at the pairing of technology and a live event such as the Super Bowl, where technology is used not only in the game itself but also to enhance the overall viewing of the fans. From the headsets coaches use to communicate, to the computers used to calculate statistics to the HD cameras that record the contest for the viewing audience, technology is now an integral part of the game.

Here's how that integration breaks down into the details:

  • A Super Bowl Twitter feed was available as away to share a little bit of the flavor of the excitement gathering around the game with the fans before kickoff. Superbowl XLIII? Meet Web 2.0.

  • The site was designed, developed and available on the web. Online viewers were able to select from five different cameras filming the event and watch the player they wanted to see speak.

  • During the game, we saw 3D commercials -- well if you had the proper glasses they were in 3D. Why bother? Well, these digitally created commercials were a good test case for potentially running 3D trailers in movie theaters in the future.

  • Wireless bridge technology and Wi-Fi devices to support 4,000 journalists. Wi-Fi allows the NFL to streamline their costs by eliminating running lots of cable but still provide a reliable service. And obviously someone with a knowledge of infrastructure needed to setup those routers and networks so they could support roughly 500 simultaneous connections.

  • For game production and business operations, the NFL tech team built out an infrastructure with approximately 300 computers, PCs and laptops.

  • To support it all, the league and IBM used a series of four IBM BladeCenter S chassis, one at each of four venues the NFL has set up around Tampa: one for general media and PR, one for the league's offices, one for game-day media and PR, and one for credentialing and in-house security. These environments don't set themselves up.

Of course not everything in the Super Bowl requires technology -- the game still begins with the entirely low-tech flip of a coin.

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