The Really Good April Fools Idea

Quick confession: I love a good April Fools joke. Not something that involves hurting anyone or really even causing any level of inconvenience in anyone’s life. I just really enjoy the little gags that you see and have to take a moment to realize it’s April 1. The University of Oregon’s College Football Program pulled off a great gag this morning. It’s great because it’s self-aware and it’s in perfect keeping with the Ducks’ brand of high-flying, cutting edge use of technology in the service of the program. And it’s great because it’s actually just a really good idea.

Im a huge college football fan, but I rarely go to games any more because the game watching experience is just so much better on TV. I always have awareness of down and distance and I can see a virtual line indicating where the offense needs to take the ball to achieve a first down. Imagine being able to attend a game in person and have that exact same situational awareness — a CFB mega-fan’s dream.

And that’s just talking about the output from the field. What if the field weren’t just a display, but also a network of sensors? Imagine the data that could be harvested during a game and how the coaches, television companies, and audiences could make use of that data. Maybe the sensors could help calculate the force of collisions on the field.

It seems awesome. Silly, but awesome. “Silly, but awesome” is often a great place for a technology to be.

As @mattturck wrote earlier this week on the state of IoT:

IoT feels like an avalanche of new connected products, many of which seem to solve trivial, “first world” problems: expensive gadgets that resolutely fall in the “nice to have” category, rather than “must have”.

So much of the history of technological adoption follows a cycle of Absurd Idea -> (tech gets created) -> Extravagant Luxury -> (tech gets a bit cheaper) -> Nice to Have -> (tech gets even cheaper) -> Commonplace. And the All-LED/Sensor Network Playing Field of Oregon’s April Fools Joke and my dreams seems like something that could sit right at the start of that cycle if you can figure out how to build it. Just imagine all the technology that would be developed in order to support this idea, and then imagine how you could apply it elsewhere, in service to something a little less extravagant and a little more important to everyday life.

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