The unpredictable and ever-evolving phenomenon that is sport is a part of everyone’s life, even if you don’t play or watch it. Massive global events such as international world championships and the Olympics, capture the attention of the world and bring out the best in our athletes.
Technology is transforming sport at a lightning-fast pace – and it’s accelerating every day. Imagine a world where in-game fitness monitoring becomes the norm in football, or elite tennis players can boost their serve speed by 10% with a super-lightweight racket.
Online sports betting and the impact of social media will mean that most professional games will want more speed, incredible shots, unbelievable goals, unbreakable records and demi-god athletes to keep the public interested and to keep them betting. The same factors will move some games to change completely or create new variants of the games, as they adapt and apply new technologies to the rules and format of the games, to keep it progressing with what the crowd wants to see.
We spoke to an expert, Applied Futurist Tom Cheesewright, who provided insight as to what the future holds for five of the worlds’ most iconic sports. Join us as we track the history of sport and reveal the technology predicted to revolutionise the worlds of football, tennis, F1 and more.
Just because we are talking about the future doesn’t mean we should ignore the past. Let’s go back to 1863 when the rules of the beautiful game of football were formed in England by the Football Association. The rules drafted by the FA allowed clubs to play each other without dispute, and also completely banned the handling of the ball – except for by the goalkeeper, of course.
For a long time, the rules of the game went untouched, and it was only in 2018 that new technology found its way into the rules of football with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) becoming viable for use in games. VAR technology made its first World Cup debut in Russia where France beat Croatia in the final. VAR is now an extremely valuable piece of technology used to make those close calls as accurately as possible.
As for the future of adaptation of technology into the game of football, prime performance monitoring might be the next piece of tech to infiltrate the game. Tom says that by 2025, “In-game player fitness monitoring, combining worn sensors with video gait analysis will feed real-time information to coaches about fatigue and injuries. This means we could see players taken off before an injury or excessive fatigue occurs.”
Tom also believes that by 2050 we could see “performance-enhancing boots and strips that reduce fatigue in the major lower muscle groups, thus enhancing the performance of running, heading and kicking. Assistive head-up virtual screens providing tactical information could guide players making free kicks while training.”
There is still much debate on the actual date of the invention of the game of tennis, but the official centennial celebration of the game in 1973 recognised the introduction of the game to the world as 1873, by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield. Major Wingfield – a Welsh inventor – was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1997, as the founder of modern lawn tennis.
The game managed to progress and sustain itself tech-free up until 2002 when the Hawk-eye technology was introduced to the game. This technology created a 3D representation of the ball using six high-tech automated cameras and was designed to help analyse performance and assist with the training of players.
When asked about the future of the game of tennis, by the year 2025, Tom said, “Lighter rackets made from durable materials could offer elite players a 10% increase in serve speed, while tennis courts made from safer surface materials could lessen the risk of lower limb strain, thus extending injury-free careers.” Which could not only make the game more fast-paced and entertaining to watch, but champions could reign for longer and have even more impressive careers.
By 2050, we could see some more technological influence in the game of tennis. According to Tom, “Bionic enhancements designed to reduce injury risk could potentially increase performance, giving rule-makers a hard time determining the difference between active and passive-assisted technology.” Regardless, the future of tennis looks bright, and with the constant development in technology, the game could be changing over the next few decades. It would also be interesting to note any changes to tennis betting.
Grand Prix racing began back in the 1920s, but it was only in 1946 that modern Formula 1 was founded. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) set rules which, at the time, allowed supercharged engines to be used in the vehicles that were racing. As the sport is a direct result of the development of technology, Formula 1 has changed constantly over time.
In 2018, the introduction of halo armour was implemented by the FIA, in an attempt to keep drivers safe from any debris that might be on the tracks. All teams, since the induction of this rule, must include halo armour to the design of the chassis on their vehicles. While keeping the drivers safe, this new rule posed difficulties to the design teams who found that the aerodynamics and stress distribution became a bit more challenging to design appropriately.
By 2025, Tom says, “F1 racing will follow in the footsteps of Formula E and will be all-electric, which will be the best option for race performance; only manufacturer lobbying could slow down this transition. An augmented reality driving environment could give drivers a sixth sense for competitors and car performance via a virtual display and body-mounted actuators.” Tom also believes that “Tomorrow’s F1 cars will radically change shape. A return to active downforce designs popular in the ‘70s is predicted as new materials, science, and careful track redesigns create super-safe cars that could hit speeds in excess of 300mph.”
So, in the year 2050, the Formula 1 races could be even more fast-paced and adrenaline-fuelled than ever before. If you can’t go and watch the races in person, you might want to try a live casino online to watch and make your bets on who comes out tops in poll position.
Running, whether it is long- or short-distance, a relay or a marathon, is arguably the oldest known sport in the history of mankind. It can be traced back to the times of the ancient Greeks, around 2700 years ago, where the Olympic Games began in honour of the God Zeus – the ruler of gods on Mount Olympus.
Intel developed 3D athlete tracking in 2019, to track a runner’s performance and status in real-time. The system the Intel has put together, known as 3DAT, will use four cameras to film athletes and then use algorithms to analyse the biomechanics of the athlete’s movements and broadcast them as a visual overlay during replays.
According to Tom, by 2025, “we can expect real-time monitoring for runners, where knowing hydration, core body temperature, and respiration rates could be the norm. Training patterns will be driven by AI race strategists.” Tom also believes that by 2050, “Screening of pre-pubescents already engaged with sport to identify candidates with the highest elite-performance potential could be common practice.”
The future of technology in running is incredibly interesting, and there could be massive changes in the fundamental rules of the sport going forward. As new technology is crammed into the shoes runners wear and their training regime, as well as the material racetracks, are built from, rule-makers and officials of the sport could start finding it hard to tell what should and shouldn’t be allowed when competing.
Esports might have been around for longer than you know. Back in 1972, the first official video game competition recorded took place at Stanford University, where gamers competed using a space combat game called Spacewar. The prize for the winner was an annual subscription to Rolling Stone magazine, which doesn’t sound too glamorous a prize for a champion. E-sports have come a long way since then and prize pools for winning competitions these days are up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As a sport literally built on the development of technology, there is almost no better place to look than to E-sports for how sports, games, and online betting will change in the future. In 2019, Intel Realsense 3D camera technology allowed developers of video games to build games that can adapt difficulty levels based on the player’s emotions. It does this by scanning 78 different points on the player’s face.
“Expect to see competitions redesigned for a mixed reality world, where both players and fans will operate in Virtual Reality arenas. Permission of non-drug-based enhancements, such as electrical brain stimulation, could increase focus,” says Tom when asked what kind of technology could be implemented in E-sports by 2025. By 2050, Tom says “The line between E-sports and physical sports will blur, with elite E-sport athletes finding they need training regimes on a par with their traditional sports counterparts in order to compete.”