January 15 2020

CES 2020: Betting, Biometrics, and the Future of Technology in Sports

Octagon, CES, Technology

By: Sebastian Oddo, Senior Vice President, Innovation, Octagon

Stamford, Conn.  January 15, 2020  The progression of technology over the past ten years has been astounding, and its influence across culture, society, and industry is like no time ever before in history.

I remember when the first iPad came out a decade ago, on April 3, 2010. I was so inspired by all of its features. Now, with every DM, tweet, text, or email I get from a friend with articles or topics of interest happening at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), I am inspired by the human ability to move us forward, especially in Sports and the Health/Wellness space.

Every year during CES, I challenge myself and the Octagon Innovation team to find topics or technology that can help our clients move forward through experiential marketing and uncover industry disruptors.

After doing research this year, getting live reports from the floor of CES, and working with incredible partners like the Sports Innovation lab, we are excited to share all of the areas that sparked our interest.

  • 5G – The fifth generation of wireless technology is here and promises mobile data speeds up to 100 times faster than the previous 4G. Naturally, this will revolutionize the speed at which everything operates, but also will allow brands to do more with what they have. Calling forth data points, pinging servers, generating unique content; 5G will not only allow us to move faster, but will also allow us to move in new ways.
  • Smart Arenas – An interesting thought experiment with any new technology is to try to apply it to the most highly-trafficked and energetic possible venues: sports arenas. Apart from the aforementioned 5G improving any and every fan need, CES featured a number of new bot systems, digital display achievements, and other smart technologies to improve the way we go about life. Apply these ground-breaking innovations to in-arena entertainment, and you have the makings of the future of sport.
  • Sports Betting – Interaction with sports now extends far beyond typical fanhood with the slow but sweeping legalization of sports betting. Technically making its debut at this year’s CES, sports betting was discussed throughout the event, including a dedicated panel on the topic. As complications and technical challenges (web service providers not being able to support the industry over state lines, for example) begin to iron themselves out, expect sports betting to be an industry that takes full advantage of mobile data technology improvements.
  • Biometric Sensors – Effective technology aims to remove layers of friction for common processes, like identification. Eliminating the only remaining layers leaves us with one last tool: ourselves. Multiple products debuted at CES in the biometric space, including smart locks that can register and detect more than 100 fingerprints, iris-retina detection for a keyless car experience, and hearing aids that can biometrically calibrate.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Despite being in the tech vocabulary for decades now, artificial intelligence continues to improve by leaps and bounds. Beyond a few creative bot applications, AI is blending into every industry, including automobiles, fitness, food and drink, and entertainment. We’re heading to a point where artificial intelligence will no longer be a billable selling point, but instead an expected and baked-in product benefit.

Here are the gadgets that we believe the industry will be watching closely:

  • Panasonic’s Motion Tracking & Projection Mapping - Real-time tracking and projection mapping detects the movements and positions of the target object at high speed to achieve smooth, low-latency projection mapping. Panasonic's real-time tracking and projection mapping technology achieves the industry's lowest latency, just 0.0016 second, or less than 1/10th that of conventional devices, between detecting an object's position and transmitting images.
  • Samsung Ballie - Samsung’s Ballie is an interesting combination between smart home device and robotic companion. The ball-shaped gadget, equipped with cameras and sensors used to follow you around, can control various smart home features, take photos, send you updates about your home when you’re away, and even function as a fitness assistant.
  • Nurvv Run Smart Insoles - Nurvv Run insoles pack 32 sensors that, along with mobile apps and included GPS trackers, provide coaching both during and after runs. You can get updates on standard stats like cadence, step length, and overall pace while you are mid-stride, thanks to audiovisual and haptic feedback. The Nurvy Run system will also tell you when to ease off. It can identify problems with your running before they lead to injuries and even indicate when you're training too often. 
  • Tactile Telerobot - HaptX gloves capture hand motion with precision and deliver realistic tactile and force feedback. These components allow the telerobot to capture and control motion, manipulate fragile or rigid objects with precision, and give the user control through tactile feedback. 
  • Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Fold - ThinkPad X1 Fold is the first fully-functional PC with a folding OLED display. Designed to offer unprecedented productivity, it will offer a ground-breaking new form factor that will re-imagine mobile computing.

If you have any questions about anything in this article, feel free to reach out to me and the Octagon Innovation team at Sebastian.Oddo@octagon.com.

About Sebastian Oddo:

Sebastian Oddo serves as Senior Vice President of Innovation for Octagon. With more than a decade of sports marketing and technology experience, Oddo oversees Octagon’s innovation, product development, and digital technology efforts. Since joining Octagon in 2010, Oddo has helped significantly grow the company’s innovation division, and he has led Octagon’s enhanced technology offerings for client marketing work, event, and experiential campaigns.