December 22, 2014

Levi’s Stadium update: Wi-Fi traffic steady at 2.3+ TB per game, Amazon and Google lead apps use

Scoreboard promo for the Levi's Wi-Fi network

Scoreboard promo for the Levi’s Wi-Fi network

Usage of the Wi-Fi network at the San Francisco 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium continues to hold steady at 2.3-plus Terabytes of data offloaded per game, according to the most recent statistics provided by the Niners’ network staff.

Though he’s no longer the team’s vice president of technology, former Levi’s network guru Dan Williams remains as a game-day consultant to the team, and he shared some recent network statistics with MSR, including some app usage marks that show Amazon Cloud Drive and Google APIs being among the top two applications being used over the Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi network.

According to Williams’ numbers, for the Niners’ Nov. 23 day home game against Washington, the Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi network had 22,095 unique users, 35 percent of the total attendance; the peak number of concurrent users was 14,700, reached at 2:50 p.m. (near halftime), and the total data used was 2.31 TB, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

During the Thanksgiving day game against the Seahawks, the network had 23,371 users (36 percent of attendees) who used 2.38 TB of data, with a peak of 16,800 concurrent users at 7:15 p.m.

Video-replay statistics from the Levi’s Stadium app apparently do better when there are more home-team highlights to watch. During the victory over Washington, 1,074 fans watched 4,885 replays, with the 30-yard TD pass from Colin Kaepernick to Anquan Boldin racking up 953 total views from 398 unique users — meaning many users are watching the same replay more than once (maybe showing it to people sitting around them?). For the Seahawks game, 1,407 fans watched 3,875 replays, with a Kaepernick pass to Michael Crabtree accounting for the most views, 487 total from 180 unique users.

The top 4 apps used by fans on the network varied a bit from the two close games, but according to Williams Amazon Cloud Drive was the top app for both recent games. For the Seahawks game, the next three top apps were Google APIs, Facebook and SnapChat, while for the Washington game the next three top apps used were stadium video, Google APIs and Apple iTunes.

Philadelphia Eagles will test CrowdOptic’s Google Glass tech at Lincoln Financial Field

Indiana Pacers cheerleaders wearing Google Glass. Credit: Indiana Pacers.

Indiana Pacers cheerleaders wearing Google Glass. Credit: Indiana Pacers.

After successfully convincing several NBA teams to use its Google Glass infrastructure technology, San Francisco startup CrowdOptic has scored an NFL deal, with the Philadelphia Eagles agreeing to test the company’s wearable-device apps at their home stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.

According to a press release out today, CrowdOptic will work with the Eagles’ infrastructure provider, Extreme Networks, which brought high-quality Wi-Fi to the stadium last year.

So far, the CrowdOptic technology has been used by the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic to provide Google Glass views to stadium jumbotrons. While having such an intimate, new point of view is interesting, CrowdOptic’s technology actually goes much deeper than simple broadcast enhancement; it can also provide a “heat map” of what an aggregate of Google Glass wearers are looking at, a feature that has many possible future applications. However, it’s unclear how stadiums and arenas might eventually regulate or administer Google Glass wearing by fans, and whether or not fans will ever be able to “broadcast” their own Google Glass video views.

“We are looking forward to testing this technology and finding ways to incorporate it into our gameday presentation,” said Brian Papson, Eagles Vice President of Marketing, in a prepared statement. “Our goal is always to provide our fans with unique and behind-the-scenes perspectives through a variety of different sources and we’re excited about the potential of using Google Glass technology through CrowdOptic.”

Guest Post: How CrowdOptic is helping the Indiana Pacers and the NBA use Google Glass

Pacers GlassEditor’s note: The following post is by Jon Fisher, CEO of CrowdOptic, the San Francisco company whose technology is helping bring Google Glass views to NBA arenas. While there’s been a lot of talk about how this is happening Fisher explains the deployment in some more detail here. The feature is being used at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for today’s opening game in the Eastern Conference Finals.

By Jon Fisher, CrowdOptic

The Pacers deployed Google Glass in real time powered by CrowdOptic in every home game since it first launched against the Miami Heat on March 26, and are deploying against Miami Sunday and through the playoffs.

Former Pacer Rik Smits with Google Glass at Sunday's game.

Former Pacer Rik Smits with Google Glass at Sunday’s game.

The solution is a package of 11 Glass devices positioned at court level — worn by a variety of Pacers employees and fans (including celebrities) to contribute immersive points of view of the action. These views are seen on the arena’s Jumbotron and have included scenes like the referees deliberating from the point of view of the game announcer right in front of them. The Pacers run this solution completely on their own logistically; they hand out Glass units and the CrowdOptic software runs on a server and laptops with dashboards in the AV room and truck.

Closer images than anything else

With the Google Glass experience, fans see faces and lips move from a more immersive perspective than a traditional broadcast camera allows. And Glass isn’t simply a GoPro-like camera in these situations (Glass is a computer) as the Pacers can text through the Glass interface telling the Glass wearers when they’re broadcasting live and/or to look in a different direction if necessary to capture a desired angle using a GUI / radar interface. The Glass wearers can dynamically change their broadcasting quality (bit rate) to conserve battery life. And the Pacers just announced the capability that anyone wearing Glass in-stadium will be able to zoom into these POVs on demand and even the POVs of the Pacers’ own stadium cameras.

Jeff Van Gundy looks very Evil Empire with Google Glass on.

Jeff Van Gundy looks very Evil Empire with Google Glass on.

This is possible using CrowdOptic technology (including U.S. Patent 8,527,340) to understand when and where the Glass units are aimed in common so inferior views of the action can be discarded for quality thereby translating the noise from the 11 Glass units into manageable broadcast streams algorithmically. Glass units aimed in the same direction can also be merged using the same technology, enabling one wearer to inherit the view of another authorized wearer.

It’s this zoom capability that the Pacers announced yesterday that we think completely changes the game. Finally, CrowdOptic is the only company currently capable of broadcasting from multiple Glass units in high density simply because we were focusing on this difficult problem early. We convert the Glass Wi-Fi signal from 2.4 to 5.0 GHz frequencies, we have optimized our code for large live events and are integrated with Wi-Fi deployers SignalShare and soon Extreme Networks, and we even have a WiMAX solution.

Jon Fisher, CEO of CrowdOptic, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, inventor, author and economic analyst. Earlier he co-founded and was CEO of Bharosa, an Oracle Corporation company, which produced the Oracle Adaptive Access Manager. Fisheris a named inventor on six U.S. and eight foreign patents, and three U.S. and 17 foreign patents pending. Fisher is a recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award.

Nike looks to abandon at least part of wearable effort

nike4

NikeFuel, one of the most widely know sports wearables may be headed to the recycle bin as the company has slashed the development team internally just as a large number of rivals are looking to enter the wearable space.

There are few facts yet in the situation as Nike has not yet released an official announcement about its moves but last Friday C/Net broke the news story saying that Nike had laid off as many as 55 people from the 70 person division that develops the FuelBand. Its Digital Sports arm will still employ approximately 150 people after the cuts.

It looks like not only the FuelBand but also its sportswatch and any other wearables that were on the drawing board are now on the chopping block. Nike confirmed to C/Net that a change in direction and layoffs were in the works but said that it would continue to support and sell the Nike+FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future.

However the move does not mean that Nike is leaving the space, or that the money and effort that went into its recently opened lab in San Francisco are going to waste, instead the company is shifting its focus to software, which as the core mission for its just opened lab.

Of course this opens the door for a whole new range of speculation. Will Nike, which has appeared to favor Apple and its platform, continue down this road and possibly be the supplier of the software to the expected Apple smartwatch? Apple has a long history of doing both its own hardware and software and while it has been happy to accept Nike support on the app side, is that what Nike wants?

Then it could focus more on Google, which is the largest mobile OS provider and has a major push in the wearable space. While Google Glass gets most of the attention that is really just the tip of the iceberg. Google recently announced its Android Wear project designed to expand the wearable space and with it use of the company’s operating system.

This will be an interesting trend to follow and could show the impact that the growing strength of Google is having on a wide range of market segments going forward.

MLB streaming comes to Google Chromecast


You can now add Google Chromecast to the platforms that stream Major League Baseball broadcasts in the U.S. Subscribers of MLB.TV who own one of the Chromecast sticks that plug into the back of many modern televisions will be very happy.

MLB.TV enables fans to watch home and away games of out of market teams and once subscribed can use not only the Chromecast but also smartphones and tablets to watch games. Be sure to check what qualifies as an out of market team since some areas such as Las Vegas are claimed by multiple teams.

English Premier League gains additional network partners for finals
The Premier League will now be available on additional channels as NBCUniversal has opened up its family of stations to the broadcast of the league’s finale that will consist of 10 matches held on May 11.

It now plans to simultaneously broadcast the games not only on NBC and NBCSN but also on Bravo, Syfy, Oxygen, USA, CNBC, MSNBC, Esquire Network and E!, channels better known for broadcasting anything but exciting soccer.

Rate the MLB announcers
It may be a bit late to join all of the fun but over at Awful Announcing they are having a contest to rate all of Major League Baseball’s individual broadcast teams. It has been ongoing for a few days but is still worth checking in to see how your favorite, or least favorite voices are doing. Do you like or detest homers, are some too bland, off message or just plain head scratching? Time to make your opinion known! The national broadcast teams on stations such as ESPN and Fox Sports will not be included in this poll.

Google lays out details for modular smartphone
Last year when Google first started talking about its “Project Ara” we did not pay that much attention since it was basically just some mockup photos and not much detail. Last week the company put meat on the Ara bones and started explaining what its intentions are in that area.

The goal of the project is simple but grandiose; it wants to revolutionize the smartphone market, and in 1 year. The idea is very simply, a phone that has a number of replaceable components that a user can select to include in their version of the phone. Think of a Lego phone as a comparable. Users could swap in processors, memory, storage and even type of connectors.

USA Today offers rare sports prints
USA Today has launched an endeavor called the USA Today Sports store and to kick it off it is offering customers a chance to buy a select number of images taken of Muhammad Ali early in his career that originally came from the Courier-Journal in Louisville.

While these images will be available for a silent auction fundraiser to benefit the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute this weekend there are a large number of images available at thestore.

Show me where to park, buy me a drink, let me see the game with friends: Using new technology to solve ‘old’ stadium problems

There was a lot of talk about new technology at the recent Stanford Graduate School of Business Sports Innovation conference, but what really caught my attention was conversations about how some smart people are planning to use new technologies to solve perennial fan pain points, like parking and concession issues, or just getting tickets close to friends who also want to see the game. I think using tech to conquer mundane problems is a great idea, and could be part of more common-sense plans that could do more to help sagging attendance than cooler ideas like video replays or Google Glass broadcasts at games.

Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s great when teams like the Indiana Pacers and the Orlando Magic push the envelope to do things like have Google Glass views shown on their arena big screens. But listening to the folks from the new ownership team at the Sacramento Kings as well as some other smart folks from the Pac-12 conference, the NBA and SAP at the April 8 conference at Stanford convinced me that we may be moving into an important second wave of stadium technology deployment, where we’re over the cool factor of the technology and are instead asking how it can be used to solve the kind of issues that keep people from buying tickets and attending games live.

To be sure, there are some table stakes to this game, and among most stadium professionals these days the need for ubiquitous connectivity inside arenas is a given. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is semi-famous in tech circles for his desire to have fans cheering instead of looking at their phones, but new Sacramento principal owner Vivek Ranadive said not having networks in stadiums is a Luddite kind of view.

“Young people are going to look at their phones 400 times a day, whether he [Cuban] likes it or not,” Ranadive is fond of saying. Ranadive, the CEO and chairman of data-management software giant TIBCO, is the new cool kid on the NBA owners block after swooping in to save the Kings from being shuttled back to Seattle. As an all-around smart guy who likes to accomplish things, Ranadive has lots of ideas for the league and his new toy. At the Stanford conference he talked about plans to make the Kings’ new stadium one of the most digitally advanced buildings anywhere; but what was refreshing to me was his and his team’s focus on the fan experience, something that bodes well for NBA fans in and around Sacramento.

Paint your face purple: Why fans are different

As the CEO of a multi-billion dollar public concern, Ranadive knows all about keeping customers happy. But fans, he said, are much different. “Fans will paint their face purple,” he told the Stanford audience. “They will evangelize, tell everyone else about [going to a game]. Other CEOs I know are dying to have fans.”

(They also might like to have a team owner who tweets selfies with cool people like Shaq.)

So how are Ranadive and the Kings looking to use tech to take care of those fans? Ben Gumpert, senior vice president of marketing and strategy for the Kings, told of some ideas as part of an in-depth panel discussion later in the day at the Stanford conference. Among the ideas where tech could make a kind of background difference: By providing traffic or parking information for fans en route to a game; by knowing when a fan is in the stadium, and maybe bringing by a free drink on that fan’s birthday. Or by using Google+ Hangouts to facilitate a pre-game fan interaction time.

“We’re looking at all the negatives [of coming to a game], like traffic, where do you park, what’s the most efficient way in to the building, is there a phone charger near your seat,” said Gumpert. “We want to be early adopters and have the smartest building, but we also see a lot of technology being behind the scenes.”

Surprise and delight

From a personal standpoint, I agree with the Kings’ philosophy — even though there is an exciting NBA team here in the Bay area, the “pain points” of having to trek out to Oakland to see a game live keep me on the couch every time. Parking, commuting to the stadium and ticket procurement are all things I haven’t explored and I’m guessing there’s no easy way to figure all that out. If the Kings’ plans work out, the team app will have a lot of that info, which I think is hugely more important than, say, making sure the app has video highlights or Instagram access to player pictures.

L to R: John Abbamondi, NBA; Ben Gumpert, Sacramento Kings; Ward Bullard, SAP; David Aufhauser, Pac-12 Networks

L to R: John Abbamondi, NBA; Ben Gumpert, Sacramento Kings; Ward Bullard, SAP; David Aufhauser, Pac-12 Networks

I mean — Google Glass views are cool. But I wonder about a stadium and team ownership that is all excited about Google Glass TV views, but leaves parking up to some dude with a sign and an orange flag. Or leaves concession purchases in the 1950s, with one person taking your order, going back to get your hot dog, and then making change. If there is a trend toward using technology to fix real problems, instead of deploying technology for technology’s sake, I’m all for it.

“There need to be more ‘surprise and delight’ experiences in stadiums,” said Ward Bullard, formerly head of sports for Google+ who is now headed to a job with the sports-app division at SAP. “Using technology to bring value back to the fan hasn’t been strong enough.”

David Aufhauser, vice president and general manager of digital media for Pac-12 Networks, said there are many potential ways to use technology to improve the fan experience, especially via specialized types of access — like free ticket upgrades or giving fans the ability to watch press conferences or meet players personally. Bullard and Aufhauser, part of the panel discussion, also talked about ideas like allowing groups of fans to dynamically move their seats to sit together, or to better keep the shared experience alive.

“Sports is still one of the things people come to physically,” Bullard said. There should be a way, Bullard said, to keep the “high of the tailgate” party intact as fans move into the stadium.

“You don’t see many selfies from the couch,” said Gumpert. “What we need to do is find out which fan experiences matter most, and leverage the mechanisms” to improve the fan experience.

“It is a people business,” said John Abbamondi, vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA, who suggested teams use CRM to know if a person in the building is up for a season-ticket renewal. “Or [maybe] it’s their birthday, and you greet them with a special drink,” Abbamondi said. “Make it personal. It is about the high-five, the thing that gets you off the couch, That shouldn’t be overlooked.”