The World Cup of M2M? Not quite

Published by Telefónica m2m Team m2m General, Consumer Electronics

With the attention of the world slowly shifting towards Brazil, the country where football is religion prepares to host in a matter of days the FIFA World Cup Tournament, we want to scrutinize FIFA’s use of technology and whether they have tapped into the vast possibilities IoT has to offer.

Two summers ago, during the 2012 Olympics, we did talk about how relevantly M2M technologies impacted the celebration of the event for the better.

The Olympic Games and the World Cup are the two biggest sports events in the world. So how do they compare in use of technology? They could not be more different.

Whereas the IOC is keen on innovation and applying it to the worldwide event, FIFA maintain a monolithic “old school” view of technology as something foreign that could harm part of the magic in the game.

UEFA president Michel Platini is a defender of some limited use of technology in football. The boss of the European football association, the most influential core member of FIFA, has managed to push forward an English FA Proposal to use goal line technology to assist refereeing despite internal resistance to change.

Two systems for goal line assistance have been approved by FIFA: one based on cameras like the already well known HawkEye (already massively successful in cricket and tennis) or the soon to become famous GoalControl on the one hand and another based on electromagnetics from GoalRef.

GoalRef relies on low radiation electromagnetic fields installed beneath the goal surface, and wiring set inside the ball (adaptable to any modern football) plus an encrypted connection between the data hub and the referee’s wrist watch. If a so called “ghost goal” occurs, one that cannot be called with the human eye without doubts, the new technology can give the referee precise information to make the right call. Referees will gain real time assistance

The equally effective camera based solution selected for this World Cup is GoalControl. It is based on 7 high speed cameras strategically located that follow the position of the ball in every moment relaying the detected position of coordinates to a central server that in the event of a controversial play provide the referee with precise information of whether the play is a goal or not within one second through an encrypted message to his watch.

A type of the M2M wearables that is bound to become central in usefulness for players, clubs and supporters alike are the combination of connected clothes and how they tie into Big Data.

Still only being marginally used, most top flight teams have crews that monitor player interaction in a match using sensors or with camera systems that track player moves. This footage/data is restricted club material and is later used by the coaching staff to assess players on tactics and moves.

In the future (already available) M2M technology may provide heat maps, possession stats, and team and player information compiled with sensors in the players’ boots and jerseys. The only reason blocking this is FIFA’s unwillingness to allow technology to enrich the game.

But times change and even FIFA once unmovable view of technological blockade is coming to an end. Maybe it is too late to be enjoyed in this World Cup but the future will give spectators and TV audiences real time in depth analytical information of how well a team or a player is performing (or not). This customized sports broadcast that provide rich and useful real-time information directly to viewers’ phones or tablets will allow us to enjoy a richer viewing experience that other sports like NFL Football or Formula 1 already make use of.

Telefónica m2m Team

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