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New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft tipped his hand at the team’s Mobility Summit in late September, saying that augmented reality would soon be a “big part of the in-game experience.” With the latest Wi-Fi upgrades to Gillette Stadium, it looks as though that innovation might be coming sooner than expected.
The Patriots recently partnered with Extreme Networks—its official Wi-Fi and analytics provider—to launch the industry’s first advanced flow-based 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless technology at Gillette Stadium.
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Not only did the implementation increase internet capacity 10G, add 30 miles of copper cabling and triple the number of Wi-Fi access points to 1,100, but it also affords the Patriots, who for years have been ahead of the innovation curve in the NFL, the ability to move forward with augmented reality. At the Summit, Kraft said that the team eventually plans to use AR via phones or glasses so fans can better identify players on the field or the first-down marker.
“[You can] look through the phone or glasses and see the 22 players on the field and above them a little cloud seeing who that player is and letting you know anything pertinent you want to about them,” Kraft said.
Added Fred Kirsch, VP of content for the Patriots and Kraft Sports Productions, in a statement: “We recognize that in-stadium, high-density Wi-Fi connectivity is the next frontier for the NFL and we’re proud to partner with Extreme to deploy such an advanced solution. Looking ahead, we’re confident that we’re prepared to meet our fans’ increasing connectivity demands. Whether it’s wearables, augmented reality or accessing next-gen player stats, we’ll be ready with the best available technology to support our fans.”
Still, the Patriots being at the forefront of technology isn’t a surprise, as they were the first team to launch a stadium network in 2012 and were one of the first teams to launch a general team app for fans. Extreme Networks CEO Ed Meyercord recently commented on New England being one of the league’s more tech-savvy franchises.
“The Patriots were the first to have a website, the first team to do video streaming—they have a website translated to Chinese . . . They have 230 fan clubs in 30 countries,” Meyercord said to CRN.com. “They’re also leading the league in terms of the globalization of the NFL.”