Without a doubt, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots gave NFL fans one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Super Bowls in history. The game saw the Patriots erase a 25-point deficit, easily the largest ever overcome in the big game, and win it in overtime, another Super Bowl first. As millions of people were enjoying the game from the stadium, the comfort of their homes or wherever they gathered to watch, an amazing amount of technology was working behind the scenes to put on the NFL’s biggest showcase.
Think about the numbers for a moment.1,250 Wave 2 access points (WiFi for those who don’t speak the tech language), 220 small cells (we all want access to the world that our phones provide, even if we are already at the game), 105 switches (coaches and players from both teams need the ability to use their headsets to talk to each other and those fancy Microsoft tablets to check out the replays), 70 miles of cables (the network set up around NRG Stadium was handling as many as 48,500 users at any given time), 24 nodes on wheels (meant to help with WiFi) and even a backup network for cell service, just in case the primary one went down.
All of this was taking place in a 1.9 million square foot area in and around the stadium, just to ensure that the onsite viewing experience was worth every penny people paid to be there. Even if you happened to be one of the millions of viewers watching around the world, the technology gurus didn’t forget about you. The camera experience for Super Bowl LI featured many new additions. Fox Sports used more than 100 cameras to cover the big game, not to mention the various apps, virtual reality platforms and 3D graphics viewers were treated to. With over 172 million total viewers and an average of over 111 million, Fox did its best to please every single viewer.
Additionally, during the game, 40 HD cameras were deployed on various players to provide 360-degree views from every position in the game. As impressive as that sounds, imagine being able to use this technology in the future to handle all replay reviews. If Intel has its way, that is exactly what will happen, thanks to their 360-degree view cameras that they have dubbed, 'Be The Player.' When the time comes, and it is coming as Intel worked with Fox Sports for certain aspects of the Super Bowl, you would actually be able to view a play from the player’s point of view. Something like this could come in real handy when trying to see if Julian Edelman’s insane catch was really a catch. Imagine being able to view it from Edelman’s point of view or the view of one of the Falcons defenders who tried, in vain, to stop a play that would’ve changed the outcome of the game.
Technology was also front and center during the one portion of the event that didn’t feature the game, the halftime show. That fancy light show that took place behind Lady Gaga when her performance first started, that was all thanks to 300 'quadcopters' provided by Intel. The drones, which can create more than four billion different color combinations, were responsible for the various images and logos that appeared in the night sky when the performance began. They were not live, however, having been pre-taped earlier in the week and then broadcast onto a screen.
Even the players got in on the technology before and during the game, making one thing clear, while we might be focused on every inch gained or lost on a given play, there is a lot more going on beyond the action between the hashes.