San Diego Technology’s influence on sports is nothing new. Just think of the engineers in Carlsbad, at Callaway Golf Co. and TaylorMade Golf Co. Inc., using aerospace industry tools to fine-tune their latest club designs. Even the cheap golf clubs available at the corner thrift store are more advanced than those used several generations ago.
Seismic shifts in technology and sports are ahead, judging from a daylong conference at UC San Diego on Jan. 18 called “Athlete Remix and the Future of Sport.”
There will be shifts in how professional players compete, how normal mortals take in spectator sports and how everyone gets a little exercise.
There was an entire session, not covered here, about how genetic engineering could create a super athlete. Someone could easily write books on that topic.
Also worthy of consideration is how information technology — specifically virtual reality and augmented reality —are poised to change the view of sports.
We are already used to augmented reality in televised football games, moderator Josh McHugh said in opening the session on the topic. It is the superimposed line on the field, showing where the team with the ball has to go to get its first down. “It took a tremendous amount of engineering to get right,” said McHugh, CEO of Attention Span Media of Los Angeles, which presented the conference along with San Diego Sport Innovators, an accelerator program.
The first and 10 marker produced legal battles, McHugh added.
Augmented reality is simply an artificial image superimposed on a picture of the real world. Think of the “Pokémon Go” game.
As the cost of hardware goes down, session participants said, people might start wearing glasses with built-in computers. Such glasses could generate statistics on their exercise regimens. The wearer would be kind of like a jet pilot with a heads up display.
NASCAR drivers could eventually get similar displays inside their windshields, said panelist Neil Gupta, partner at Indicator Ventures of Boston.
“Some leagues are going to be more progressive than others, and take risks before others,” said Patrick Costello of Qualcomm Inc. He directs business development for virtual reality and augmented reality. Costello said Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) is “investing very heavily” in the fields of extended reality, an umbrella term for virtual reality and augmented reality.
Even if leagues rule that using technology in pro sports offers unfair advantages, they may admit the technology to prevent players from injuring themselves, said Gupta.