Super Bowl 50 vows to be the most technologically advanced ever


Are you ready for some high-tech football?

With Super Bowl 50 just a couple of weeks away, the game will be the most technologically advanced game ever played. At least that’s what Super Bowl organizers such as the National Football League, the host team San Francisco 49ers, and Silicon Valley software giant SAP want you to believe, touting the game’s cutting-edge advantages during a panel discussion Wednesday night.

Tech will definitely be a focal point not only for the game itself at the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7, but also for the crowds expected to converge on downtown San Francisco to partake in weeklong pre-game festivities at Super Bowl City. A million football fans are expected to try out such fan-friendly interactive games Amp It Up and Breakaway inside the Fan Energy Zone sponsored by SAP.

Super Bowl 50 vows to be the most technologically advanced ever

A beta version of the soon-to-be released Super Bowl 50 app. Organizers say the big game on February 7 is going to be the most technologically advanced Super Bowl ever.

Terry Collins/CNET

It’s all a prelude to the golden anniversary of the Super Bowl, the NFL’s marquee event and one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. More than 72,000 fans are expected to attend the game and another 110 million more watching on TV.

The spectacle is expected to be the techiest Super Bowl in history as it’s being played right in the heart of Silicon Valley.

“Almost everybody at the Super Bowl will be using some sort of mobile device,” said Al Guido, chief operating officer for the 49ers. “They’re going to be looking at game statistics, their social networks, sharing photos and other content. We have the high-tech infrastructure to handle it.”

How? The stadium, which opened in 2014, has some 400 miles of fiber and copper cable to handle data and some 1,200 Wi-Fi access points, Guido said. Simply put, the stadium has about 10 times more bandwidth than the NFL mandates at other stadiums. “We just feel that’s the way the future of sports is headed,” he said. “We want to our fans to watch any replay from any angle. That was our vision.”

Guido also showed off a beta version of the Super Bowl 50 app, teasing that those must-see commercials might be shown on it. “Maybe,” he said.

With technology also comes possible pitfalls, conceded Aidan Lyons, the NFL’s vice president of fan centric-marketing. But he’s not too worried, believing the league and the game’s sponsors are going to put its best effort forward on site at the game, but also at Super Bowl City. He said fans can use the NFL Fan Mobile Pass and a Road to 50 app to help them get around.

“We’re going to put the technology in the fan’s hands,” Lyons said. “I’ve experienced Super Bowls where I’ve heard fans say, ‘Where do I go for this?’ ‘How do I get that?’ If you give them the technology, whether its information, scheduling it will enhance their experience,whether they are from San Francisco or from New Jersey.”

With major issues such as affordable housing and homelessness,San Francisco city leaders have been getting heat for its estimated spending of $4 million out of its coffers for the Super Bowl-related events — mostly for additional police staffing and extra public transportation — without any reimbursement from the NFL or the local Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.

But the city expects a major windfall. Mayor Ed Lee’s office said in a recent statement that, “We fully expect a financial win for San Francisco, and the mayor is proud of the work the city did to win the bid to host this historic event and thanks the Super Bowl Host Committee for providing the free family-friendly events.”

And they will enjoy it, said Sam Yen, chief design officer for SAP. He said both kids and adults will get a kick out of the Quarterback Challenge, a third interactive game in which fans wearing a virtual reality headset become a quarterback in simulated game situations such as avoiding getting sacked or throwing a game-winning touchdown pass. Users can see how their fared against other competitors on a scoreboard.

“We hope this adds a new level of excitement. Technology has the opportunity to amplify the human experience,” he said. “This gives an opportunity for the community to experience a part of the Super Bowl, whether you’re going to the game or not.”

Asked what are they most concerned about on Super Bowl Sunday, the panelists said almost in unison: “the weather.”