Over the next decade, the sporting experience will change, for both the athlete and fan, perhaps more than in any decade since the first Olympic stadium went up in Greece nearly 3,000 years ago.
Imagine a 100m sprint final line-up - eight athletes none of whom are at the same location. Picture a stadium full of cheering fans that are supporting athletes who aren't there. Envisage the ability to compare the blood sugar levels and heart rate of sporting rivals.These are just some of the ways in which technology could impact sport in the future.
People no longer passively consume sport from their armchair. The London 2012 Olympic Games are being called by many 'the social media Olympic Games'. Sebastian Coe in his recent interview for Ascent, Atos' vision of sport and technology report, said; "The challenge faced by any Organizing Committee is to essentially host 26 simultaneous world championships in a couple of weeks, before doing it all again for the Paralympic Games. At London 2012, there will be more than 15,000 athletes, 6,000 officials, 25,000 accredited media, 11 million tickets and we will serve something in the region of 15 million meals. But that only tells half the story. Many of these figures would not be wildly different from previous Games. Where the London 2012 Olympic Games will smash records into oblivion and change the face of the Olympic and Paralympic Movements forever will be in terms of social media. I have no doubt that the next Games and the Games after that will only continue this rapid advancement."
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London 2012 is only the start. In the future, fans will be able to share their experience in real-time with all their friends and family as the cloud will allow the most instant uploading and downloading of data. Athletes can get spotted by talent scouts or secure more lucrative sponsorship deals based on what their fan base is saying in social media, helping to identify up and coming stars.
Athletes will be able to train smarter as increased performance data would enable trainers to spot patterns and identify signs of improvement, weaknesses or even potential injury. By combining contextual information about the weather and the field of play together with detailed analysis of the competitors, coaches could actually influence in real-time the way athletes perform.
Technology is already making a significant contribution to sport and by 2020 it will be the driving force that takes sport to a new level enabling even better and safer performances by athletes, and a greater spectator experience. As always, the regulatory bodies responsible for setting the rules for each sport will have to decide upon what is acceptable - and what is not - in the digital sport revolution.
And what will the stadium of the future look like? Connected and smarter! By 2020 fans may have a front row view from wherever they are sitting by a second screen that can switch their view to pitch side or any other angle provided by other cameras. As the digital stadium becomes smarter, many new services will become possible: ordering and paying for refreshments and merchandise direct to the seat through mobile phones, instant voting for best sport performers during the show, live betting, to name a few.
Augmented reality could also enable those watching at home to take on their sporting heroes while watching them compete. Fans of the future could step virtually onto the pitch, as live footage and gaming merge into one. Whereas viewers at home could see sports unfold through the eyes of the athlete. The new viewer will be his or her own director at home, choosing which side of the action they want to watch.
Way beyond 2020, we even see the potential for event organisers to stage events where athletes compete in the same race yet located in different countries. Each athlete could run in his or her own city and yet they could appear together as holograms in the same race.
So when you watch the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - whether it be at the Games themselves or from the comfort of your armchair - or when you tweet about the excitement of being at the venue or your sporting hero winning gold, remember this is only the very beginning of the digital revolution in sport.
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Games and beyond will be altogether different experiences that aim to enhance the spectator experience, bringing us even close to the action and supporting further the performance of the athletes. In short, it will make our passion for sport even bigger and stronger.