Thursday, 29 August 2019 15:32

Telstra, AFL hear footy fans, clubs ideas on 5G ‘future of footy’ Featured

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistance for umpires to augmented reality goggles for players are just two of the suggestions AFL clubs and fans have put forward to the AFL and Telstra in response to a 5G “ future of footy” survey.

Telstra says thousands of fans from all around the country came forward with their innovative ideas including a suggestion for a ‘smartsherrin’’with chips/sensors in the ball so it can be determined whether the boot was the last thing to make contact.

Here are the ten most popular suggestions submitted on social media:

1) ALL NEW GOAL LINE TECHNOLOGY. The most popular suggestion, by far, constituting more than 1 out of every 4 submissions was 5G enhanced goal line technology. There were a variety of different approaches put forward from posts that light up if touched by the ball, laser goal posts or the application of Ultra High Definition (UHD) / High speed cameras for umpires to review.

Debbleswat said “Hawkeye for footy – just like tennis”.

2) A VIEWING REVOLUTION. The second most popular set of ideas were based around taking media experience to the next level, such as multi-viewing streams where fans at the game can link their phones and watch the game from a wide variety of angles. Jackbrophyy said “imagine having multiple cameras set up around the ground and you can change camera angle from your tablet live”.

Paul Milford said “This is definitely something that 5G could enable in the future. Samsung successfully demonstrated this technology earlier in the year and we ran a similar test with the West Coast Eagles”.



3) SNICKO AND HOTSPOT. Another fan favourite seems to be the cricket inspired ‘Snicko’ and Hotspot technologies that would enable umpires to check for touches and touch behinds.

4) A 360 DEGREE EXPERIENCE. A large group of fans put forward suggestions based on 360-degree filming to replicate the instadium experience to fans at home through virtual reality. Fans also imagined a future where those 360 images could be turned into holograms and projected onto a kitchen table!

Paul Milford said, “Virtual Reality and the broadcast of 360-degree films both benefit hugely from the high capacity and low latency of 5G. While the hologram experience may be a little way off, we recently created some VR training content with Port Adelaide and so a new dimension of Footy broadcasts is not that far-fetched”

5) A SMARTSHERRIN. a bay suggested “chips/sensors in the ball so you can determine whether the boot was the last thing to make contact” and he was not alone. There were several suggestions for a smart-ball that could alert umpires to when it has gone out of play, could provide stats for fans or could even give advice to players.

6) SMART TRACKING FOR PLAYER WELFARE. mister b 910 was among a number of fans who were suggesting sensors or biometric clothing that continually monitor players vital signs, fluid levels and general wellbeing. Instagram user Saints.afl said “I’d love to see sensors on the player’s main muscles to prevent injuries and help teams with knowing who can stay out there the longest…”

Paul Milford said, “Tracking player data is something that we can do right now. Look up the Telstra Tracker online and you can see some of the data that players, clubs and fans already have access to. What 5G means is that those trackers will have the potential to communicate more data and that can absolutely contribute towards the game’s already excellent approach to player welfare”.

7) CAMERA IN THE FOOTY. A very popular, if somewhat surprising choice is a camera mounted in the footy. Michael.smithy15 wanted a different perspective “live from the Sherrin!”, annie.ireland thought a camera in the ball would help “determine if a free kick or a goal should be paid” and tom-rendle wanted it “so every time it’s kicked we have the opportunity to see it clunked by big Ben King”

8) FUTURISTIC UMPIRES. Umpires made it to number eight on our list with suggestions such as: “AI Umpires” (nicholasalexanderfrancis), virtual umpiring to be carried out by a team behind the scenes using an increased amount of camera angles (sam.raff) and even “Would love to see the umpires as drones instead of people as people get in the way of the play, would be cool in ball ups to see them swoop in pick up the ball and drop it into play so every ruck contest was fair.” (Cgibb)

9) INSTANT STATS. It seems like there are a lot of fantasy football fans out there with ideas for the future because also in our top ten suggestions was the idea of instant stats appearing through apps or like a “stat bar floating at the top of their head” (maxy_harris) Paul Milford said, “Telstra Tracker already has the data, we just need to find an AR app to show it off. 5G will help with that so… watch this space”.

10) EARPIECES. Rounding out our top ten. Max_Cowburn suggested that @telstra make earpieces for the players so coaches can get their message across faster and clearer than a runner. He was not alone as ear-pieces, augmented reality goggles/contract lenses and other player worn tech rounds out our most popular top ten.
Darren Birch General Manager – Growth, Digital and Audiences said: “The influence of technology on our sport has come a long way in the last ten years – from the way teams train, to the way fans engage with the sport and we are constantly looking to the future. So, while you probably won’t see drone delivered pies at your ground next match day, some of Telstra’s ‘Future of Footy’ ideas may not be all that far away”.

Paul Milford said: “The Future of Footy is a bit of fun but there is very real technological innovation behind the ideas. 5G has the potential to revolutionise many aspects of our day to day lives and Footy is no exception. We are partnering with a host of different companies and organisations to look at how 5G can contribute to, for example, player welfare, in-stadium fan experience and all new broadcast techniques”.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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