Apps in sport are now standard issue and each passing year sees a marked step forward in sophistication. Not so long ago live video, emojis and photography seemed pretty nifty ideas, now we just accept them as much as expect them. So what's next? According to the people I spoke to at Sportlobster, one of the early sports apps to combine social media with push messaging, the future looks very interesting...
• Augmented Reality: much has been talked up around VR and AR but until recently it has been a bit of a false dawn; VR, in particular, tended to look like a slightly less-good version of actual reality. It is probably fair to say that AR has now leapfrogged its virtual alternative, as Pokemon Go demonstrates. From a sporting perspective this means live sport events can now develop unique rewards and information available only to those coming to the venue. Sponsorship and sales opportunities also open up through targeted messaging or advertising. Whilst the obvious places for these are at venues, there is clear scope for adoption of AR across transport and pub/bar networks. AR also presents an interesting platform to communicate real-time stats and player information.
• Hearables: virtual personal assistants, such as SIRI and Cortanna, are becoming wider spread but there is still scope for further expansion through earbud tech. Currently mobile device engagement is intensely disruptive but wireless earbud technology means this could become a thing of the past. By combining audio and voice usage, notifications can be tailored based on sport and timing preference, meaning these can be sent to an earbud without the need to open an app. From a sports event viewpoint, in-stadia application of this spans push messaging - such as match tickets going on sale - with the resulting ability to book these via a voice command.
• Quantum Computing: this appropriately high-tech sounding innovation is very impressive, not only does it allow data to be processed 100 million times faster than is currently possible, it also simulates human thought. This means that unstructured data can be mined using pattern recognition with natural language processing. Since it is estimated that around 80% of the world's data is currently unstructured, Quantum Computing has the potential to change the status quo exponentially. Its sports potential is most likely to be in the areas of collecting data from wearables; it is expected that it can help perfect techniques, give injury warnings, provide more efficient training, insights into player development and mind-sets. For team managers, this means that they won't just know how far a player has run but the percentage of energy used in real-time - and if they have reached the end of their on-field effectiveness.
Traditionally in sports technology, the public benefits from initiatives that are honed in the elite element of the sector. What is especially exciting about these innovations is that they are more democratic as they will reach all areas of sports simultaneously so have the potential to be enjoyed by sports fans of all types, at the same time.