Technology has always played a big role in the way people develop their relationship to entertainment and fitness. When, in the early 2000s, Nintendo released the Wii console, many non-gaming households discovered for the first time the joy and excitement of playing together in a very intuitive manner – contrary to other consoles that required only a joystick and a few buttons. The Wiimote’s ability to follow the movement of the player has transformed forever the way people create and play games. The now classic Wii Sports game has brought a new edge to playing sports in the living room. Taking inspiration from this first cut through intuitive technology for games, the market has filled with new and inventive ways to introduce sports into your everyday lifestyle.
But for someone who enjoys watching and playing soccer, the realm of possibilities for tech improvements and enhancements that can not only bring you closer to your favourite games but also maximise your experience offers plenty of options. Can technology make the most of football for die-hard fans, casual players, or even club coaches? This is for you to decide – a.k.a. we’re still waiting for some amazing innovation, while others, lesser known, already exist.
Still expected: AR or VR for big games
Wouldn’t you love sitting down in your living room and feel as if you were part of the game? Augmented Reality is not a new phenomenon – as demonstrated by the rise of popularity of the Pokemon Go game –, but it can completely transform your surroundings in a way that blurs out the lines between reality and screen images. For soccer fans, the idea of watching an augmented reality version of a match could deliver the dose of excitement and fun they need. Ultimately, fans agree that nothing replaces the atmosphere in the stadium. However, it’s not always practical to get tickets for all the games you want to watch. An AR app could deliver the almost tangible sensation and touch one needs to feel part of a live audience. When do we get our favourite teams on AR? It’s a question that is, for now, left unanswered.
Similarly, virtual reality could be the next step up, letting you wear a pair of glasses on which you can follow the game as if you were in the stadium. Technologically speaking, there is nothing that would stop hardware manufacturers to come up with such an item. You can bet that it would be on top of the Christmas present list if it already existed!
Football intelligence tools that make you rich? Tick!
Football betting is a global industry that is worth billions of pounds. If you enjoy a gamble, you’ve probably already tried your hand at some of the online betting platforms. Indeed, with around 70% of the sports match betting sector coming only from football, it’s fair to say that with a little know-how you could win the jackpot! However, betting doesn’t limit your options to the most obvious choices; namely win, lose or draw. The main problem is that you can bet on almost anything, from the number of goals to who will be the last goalscorer. As a result, the possibilities of winning are infinitesimal – while the chances of losing are, unfortunately, more significant. That’s precisely why enthusiastic gamblers need a betting platform that can analyse previous games and scores. Indeed, without data, it’s impossible to win! Thankfully, this type of technology already exists, even though you might not know of it – platforms such as OddsWizz are popular in the match betting world. In short, if you want to boost your income before Christmas, let the tech do the hard work!
A fitness tracker that compares you against your favourite player: Why isn’t it out already?
If you’re a casual player on Sundays, or you’re an active member of a local club, you’re probably keeping track of your fitness and performance through a tracker. Fitbit, the Apple Watch and Garmin gears are popular among gym-goers. But, they offer a one size fits all approach that might not be useful to help you to improve your soccer skills. You can find one specific tracker that has been designed with football players in mind, the Zepp Play Soccer, which is a small calf sensor. The sensor is placed on your dominant legs and monitors your movements and kicks. You can use the data to better identify your weaknesses, for instance. However, if you want to kick it like Beckham, you have to wait until someone invents a tracker that compares you to known players.
A VAR you can trust: The jury is still debating that one
The video assistant referee, VAR, for short has been introduced as a system designed to avoid referee’s errors. The referee, ultimately, may not always be in the best position to spot issues or to make an informed decision as the game is going. In theory, it’s started as a wonderful idea. In practice, it’s a different kettle of fish. A reliable and smooth VAR system is still something of an impossible dream as far as players and fans are concerned. So far, instead of offering more clarity about the game, the system has left the audience with more unanswered questions than ever before. The technology is not quite performing as it should yet – the VAR pictures from the Manchester United vs Huddersfield game in February 2018 speak volumes about it!
A smart ball that makes you a better player? It’s available now
There isn’t yet a tracker that makes you a better player. Most trackers provide data – of various levels of relevancy depending on which tool you’re using –, but they can’t actively show you what went right or wrong. Statistics are, after all, just numbers! Wouldn’t it be lovely if the ball could give feedback about your kicks? While this might sound like a sci-fi gadget, there is a smart ball that can help players to correct errors. The ball connects to an app that films your kicks and trains you, the ideal present for an amateur player.
The bottom line is that technology has long been part of the way we play games. However, it’s only recently been developed in the football industry, for players, gamblers, and fans. The route to high-tech soccer is still long!