The Most Technological “Big Game” Yet?

A Super Bowl situated in the heart of Silicon Valley is bound to be an over the top experience for tech nerds like me. Super Bowl 50 did not disappoint. During the weekend in Santa Clara, I had an opportunity to experience all the unique and innovative initiatives that was part of the “big game.”

Here are a few of my favorites.

Visa® Innovation Lab Experience

Payment and Identification Band

The Visa Innovation Lab Experience was definitely a highlight. Visa used morpho hand biometrics to identity participants during the event. The system captures four fingerprints by simply passing a hand through the reader. It is done with a high resolution camera, so no messy ink or paper required!

A tap of a payment wrist-band and wave of the hand is all that was required to purchase items at the pop-up store.

Visa Giving Wall Donation Station

Another really cool idea was the Visa Giving Wall. By the flash of a wrist, I was able to donate to the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, the San Francisco Marin Food Bank and Friends of the Urban Forest. The wristband identifies the user and triggers the donation transaction.

Hopefully everyone else looked as goofy as I did trying out VR

The Gridiron was a great virtual reality experience. Through the VR lens, I was able to step inside Levis Stadium and test my throwing ability, running the fireworks show and much more. I believe this will become the norm for brand marketing in the not so distant future.

I also checked out the virtual dressing room, which uses augmented reality to take items that you select from the virtual store and try them on. Not sure I’m ready for that one.

At Levis® Stadium

Inside the stadium, there was tons of bandwidth, free wi-fi and unbelievable cellular capacity, even during the much anticipated halftime show. The mobile network operators must have really beefed up their capacity because unlike many professional sporting events in the past, phones were able to talk, text, and consume data throughout the event. This is no small feat, though it is often expected.

The Super Bowl 50 Stadium App (my version was iOS) featured an array of technology. Let’s break down the main ones in use:

Super Bowl Stadium App Screen Shot

Indoor location. Using a variety of technologies, this app could help fans navigate from their seat to the nearest food stand (including a real time wait indicator), restroom, escalator, or exit. Actually, one could navigate to/from any place in the stadium. It was highly accurate and fast.

In App Food and Merchandise Ordering

In-seat ordering with Visa Checkout. Fans using the app could order food or beverages right from the mobile app and have it delivered to their seat. Alas, I chose to wait until mid way into the second quarter to test this and the estimated wait time was 69 minutes!

Live sideline cameras and replays. The app featured a cool ability to go back and watch a play that might be at the far end of the field and see it in all of its HD glory, right on the mobile device. Amazingly, users could also switch between a variety of camera angles in real time. Did I mention the WiFi was fast? It really showed here with demanding video playback.

Whether it is making the fan experience better, increasing purchasing convenience, or providing valuable assistance in navigating an unfamiliar location, the technology on display has wide potential and I expect we will see more of it in our everyday lives in the not so distant future.

Next year, the festivities move to Houston — but in 2018 Super Bowl 52 will happen right here in Minneapolis at the new U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s time to start planning our own party!

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