As a gamer at heart, I was watching this year’s E3 Expo pretty intently. I haven’t been able to afford gaming in a while, so I thought I’d check in this year and see what all the new consoles were about. I owned a 360 before it broke on me, so I paid most attention to the Xbox One’s features…and was left pretty disappointed overall. As a gamer, I felt that the starting lineup for the games should have been a lot more entertaining, but I suppose more news on that front will come out soon. As a football fan, though, I was really interested in how intimately Microsoft is working with multimedia companies, especially the NFL. This was before I realized that Microsoft and the NFL agreed to a $400 million deal over five years , meaning that the NFL may experience a technology surge as soon as the 2014 season. It’s an exciting time in my life when two of my loves, gaming and football, are merging forces faster than ever before. Since these very well could revolutionize the way the fan watches games on Sundays, it’s worth looking into what new gadgets could see their way to the sidelines in the next few years.
Microsoft’s NFL partnership gives the NFL a new way to broadcast games and statistics to viewers through the new system, even though it isn’t terribly different from anything they have now. Similar to some of the NFL-only channels that DirecTV offers, the Xbox One will allow you to watch games live with stats available onscreen. The Xbox One will also offer the ability to “simultaneously interact with a personalized NFL destination that features player, team, and game information,” which seems vague. The only thing that I can picture when I hear “personalized NFL destination” in a video game is the completely-useless ESPN NFL 2K5 crib that you could deck out with all kinds of useless crap, but I may be exaggerating. Still, it seems like this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the gaming side of this news.
I expect the system to eventually get new stuff added to it, but the NFL should see Microsoft upgrades as quickly as this upcoming season. NFL referees that go to review challenges will now be working with Surface branded technologies, but more importantly, coaches are going to be given Surface tablets. While this may not seem like a very important jump to the casual fan, understand that most teams are using Polaroid pictures, printed-off diagrams, and binders full of information. Imagine how much easier it would be to diagnose a play if you could pull up the exact scheme they were using, share it with your QB, and upload high-quality shots (and maybe video?) of the game to bring back to film study the next week.
The NFL’s jump into the 21st century should bring about even more exciting changes. One of the few innovations that I’m interested in seeing more is Google Glass . Glass is a wearable computer that should be available to the public in early 2014, although techies are testing it now. It has a light, but high-quality, camera that rests on eyeglass frames. While I don’t expect players to be comfortable wearing this technology during an actual game (at least, yet), ESPN recently published a video on the possible usage of Google Glass to teams. Having this point of view for evaluating any player would be so beneficial to coaching staffs and scouts, as you could see exactly what the player is seeing at any given time. Raiders punter Chris Kluwe, notorious for being a hardcore gamer, got his hands on a prototype and recently put out a video teaching young punters how to punt using Google Glass. He’s also taken the Glass to Raiders training camp, so stay tuned for inevitable Kluwe video over the summer.
I’m very excited to see where the NFL will be going in the next few years. It seems as though there’s a huge shift coming as technology and the game become more intertwined, and it will be very interesting to see if this actually affects the game in any way.