Big tech has seeped into every vestige of life in general and especially pro sports, with Hawk-Eye technology becoming vital to the workings of ATP and WTA tennis tournaments, super slow-motion replays being used throughout NFL games, and even caddies helping golfers out with tech devices that accurately measure the distance to a green and pin.
Hockey fans would be forgiven for thinking that the same hasn’t happened in leagues like North America’s NHL and Canada’s CHL, but the truth is that big tech got its claws into the game long ago and is showing no sign of letting go.
Here are just some of the ways that big tech solutions have revolutionized the way in which hockey is played, trained for, coached, and ultimately presented to the wider world.
The NHL is being brought right up to date with a whole swathe of tech advances that are revolutionizing everything from the ways players train to how franchises market themselves
Pucks Packed with Tech
Last season the first NHL pucks with tracking technology inserted into them were trialed. They got off to a rocky start; their first incarnations being deemed substandard for elite-level play.
Those issues have now been ironed out and the pucks are in full circulation throughout the NHL. The main application for such pucks is to generate huge amounts of data that can be harnessed to help coaches devise pre-game tactics, improve training programs, and for media outlets to have more interesting stats to break down for fans and sports bettors. Indeed, stats gleaned from the pucks have opened up a plethora of fresh betting opportunities, many of which are now visible among the best NHL odds in Canada. With the new pucks only having been used for a limited amount of time, the sky really is the limit as to how much fascinating data they may be capable of collecting down the line to inform everyone from fans to bookmakers.
Even the humble hockey puck is now packed with all sorts of big tech goodness, allowing everyone from fans to head coaches to get the stats they so desire
How Fans Consume Hockey Will Change
Tech is not just being used to glean data from the NHL, but also as a means of generating extra income – something that is vital when fans are unable to be present at games. The main change in this regard, that fans watching from home will notice, is that the boards that run around the rink have changed. They are now what is known as DEDs or Digitally Enhanced Dashboards, which allow the NHL to command higher advertising fees from companies wanting their brands to be visible on matchdays. However, these boards are virtual boards, which only exist for people watching on television or a live stream. This allows advertisers to run more targeted ads rather than all viewers seeing the exact same advertisements.
AR Implemented at Stadiums
A real worry for NHL execs is that with such incredible viewing experiences on offer at home (as well as a well-stocked fridge and comfy sofa) fans will be unwilling to rush back to live games. With this in mind, they are harnessing the dual power of 5G and Alternative Reality (AR) to take the in-stadium fan experience to the next level.
An idea of how this could work has already been trialed in the NFL, where fans were given the opportunity to dance alongside AR versions of top American football players, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The technology could have plenty more uses besides, and no doubt NHL franchises will become more adventurous in using the technology over the coming seasons.