Why Super Bowl 50 was “The IoT Bowl”

Last updated: 26 January 2023

Super IoT Bowl - San Fransisco

It was a beautiful evening in San Francisco; the NFL’s no.1 defense versus the no.1 offense, a star-studded halftime show featuring Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, and a second championship for the game’s all-time leading quarterback, Peyton Manning; Super Bowl 50 had lots to appreciate and enjoy for everyone. Approximately 112 million viewers (almost 4 million online) from all over the world watched in awe as the Denver Broncos hammered the heavily favored Carolina Panthers in an intensely physical battle. But, as we witnessed Von Miller of the Denver Broncos deliver an MVP performance, not many of us may have realized how much of an effect of the Internet of Things was having on the game.

The IoT was a big player on and off the field on Sunday – here are four reasons why:

1. On-the-field technology/Player tracking

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The players in Super Bowl 50 were part of the IoT, thanks to Zebra Technologies Corp., a provider of real-time location solutions. Since 2014 in the NFL, teams have had the ability to track each of their players in all stadiums using sensors (embedded within their shoulder pads) that measure their position, accumulated distance, speed, acceleration, deceleration, and orientation. Throughout the game, coaches were able to monitor all these measurements closely and ensure their players were in the best situation possible for success. This data also enables the NFL to compile ‘Next Gen Stats,’ which allows fans to view player performance throughout the course of the game.

2. Fan connectivity

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Levi’s Stadium, the home of Super Bowl 50 and the San Francisco 49ers, is one the most advanced stadiums in the world, and even comes with its own app. In addition to offering high quality Wi-Fi throughout the venue, the stadium’s app enabled fans to stay fully connected during Super Bowl 50; helping them navigate around the stadium, order food and beverages, and provides a ‘game center’ for HD video instant replays. This all impressed us. However, when it comes to the IoT, we were most impressed with how the stadium’s app tracks fans’ locations (when Bluetooth is enabled), using this info to help you find the restrooms and food kiosks with the shortest lines. It also helps the stadium operations team track which parking lots fill the fastest before the game, providing them with more info they can pass on to the fans.

3. Player power measurement

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NFL experts will tell you great teams are built through the draft. For those of you that don’t know, the draft is the process in which the 32 teams of America’s National Football League meet to pick newly available players. The majority of these players come from America’s top football-playing colleges; teams then take it in turns to select the picks they want. Picking the right players can be very difficult, and can be the difference between success at highest level and failure to reach the playoffs.

Fortunately for the Broncos, in the 2011 NFL draft, they picked the future Super Bowl 50 MVP, Von Miller, who led them to victory on Sunday. Part of the reason they picked him was down to his incredible power and speed, which they could measure through Under Armour’s E39 compression shirts. 2011 was the first year this technology was used ahead of the NFL Draft, helping teams make informed decisions on a player’s power. On this occasion, the use of the IoT in 2011 helped the Broncos win in 2016.

4. Super security

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Fan and player safety was of paramount importance at Super Bowl 50.

A wide range of measures were in place to ensure the event ran smoothly and safely. For example, Levi’s Stadium was fitted with 600 security cameras! We were also impressed by the use of Social Media Bots – analytical bots designed to scan all social media posts during the event; anything concerning or potentially violent was immediately picked up by these bots; the location of any unusual posts was then flagged to the authorities instantly. But once again, it was the use of the IoT that impressed us most. Law enforcement around the stadium has been using data collection to provide insight into activities around the area by integrating video feeds with real-time location tracking of police units and attendees.

All these brilliant uses of the IoT helped make Super Bowl 50 a resounding success for the NFL, and for the Denver Broncos. The exciting prospect is that next year’s Super Bowl in Houston will undoubtedly be even more advanced; what could be next? We anticipate that wearable technology for the players will progress even further, especially with regard to preventing and monitoring concussions. Do you agree? Let us know by tweeting to us at @Gemalto or by posting in the comments below.

Further reading: see how the IoT could have saved the Seahawks from their agonizing Super Bowl loss last year.

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