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World Cup undergoes it’s very own digital transformation

World Cup undergoes it’s very own digital transformation

Digital transformation is a lot like the World Cup: you can’t escape it. This year’s World Cup in Russia is undergoing its very own digital transformation, with a number of tech innovations making an appearance for the first time.

Technology has long played an important role for broadcasters, organisers and spectators at the World Cup. But as Forbes highlights, the difference this year is the impact of tech on the pitch itself.

Here are the four tech innovations which will shape this year’s tournament:

1) VAR

Football fans have long been calling for video assistant referees (VARs) like the ones seen in rugby, tennis and cricket. The argument for the technology is that it will remove any injustice with referees able to refer ‘game changing situations’ such as goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity to a video referee who can help.

But, the technology wasn’t exactly a unanimous success when it was trialled during last season’s FA Cup, causing many of those fans who were in favour of it to do a complete U-turn. All the same, VARs will be present in all 64 games of this year’s World Cup. Expect controversy.

2) 4K UHD Video & VR

You might have seen the BBC advertising that, for the first time, it will bring the FIFA World Cup live to audiences in 4K Ultra HD and virtual reality. There were 4K trials at Brazil 2014, but this is the first time a 4K feed will be made available to broadcasters, with a greater proportion of viewers now owning compatible television sets.

The BBC’s VR feed, meanwhile, available via the BBC Sport VR application, will allow viewers to feel as though they are in a private box at the stadium.

3) Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems

Just like HR, football is fast becoming a data-driven game. Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems (EPTS) is a tablet-based system that will give coaches for all 32 teams access to player statistics and video footage in real- time.

One of the tablets will be available for an analyst in the stand, one will be on the bench and the other will be for the medical team. The analysts will be able to see stats such as player positioning data, passing, pressing, speed and tackles, generated by a camera-based system and wearable technology.

4) 5G technology

 I know what you’re thinking: why are they developing 5G when 4G isn’t available everywhere yet? All the same, both TMS and Megafon, the official communications partner for the World Cup, will be holding trials of the technology in Russia during the event.

The idea is to get 5G networks up and running for public access by 2019, delivering faster speeds, greater capacity and ultra-low latency. This will mean better connectivity for football fans in stadia in the future as well as new experiences.

By the next World Cup in 2022, these technologies will feel like old hat. It just goes to show how important it is to move with the times – it’s easy to become outdated.

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