How Intel and Arizona State made Sun Devil Stadium a smart stadium

Wednesday March 29th, 2017

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Using forty small, rectangular sensor hubs placed in casings under stadium seats at Sun Devil stadium, Arizona State University was able to turn a jumbotron cliché into a scientific measurement. In 2015, they collected sound data from the crowd using the sensors and represented the information on the scoreboard as a sound meter, said Assistant Vice President of IT Development at ASU Chris Richardson.

The loudest section of fans, as determined by the data, received a push notification from the ASU app on their phones.

“It’s scientific as well as it’s actionable response to those that engaged with the game,” Richardson said.  

Intel and ASU created an “Internet of Things” network with the sensors, which analyze humidity, temperature, sound and vibration, among others. Presently, ASU and Intel are planning more deployments of IOT capability.

“It’s really about allowing those things to have a voice such that you can use that information for various needs,” said Christine Boles, Smart Building Solutions General Manager at Intel.

The sound meter that was used in 2015 is the only “full deployment” of the technology so far, according to Boles, but the partnership yields myriad possibilities, including parking improvement and distinguishing “good yelling” from “bad yelling.” As of now, ASU has not created a final list of deployments.

Despite the sound meter being the only implementation, Richardson said the sensor technology creates several possibilities for ASU going forward, including an engaging fan experience, sponsorship opportunities and operational benefits.

“The conversations we were having with ASU were, with the stadium renovation that’s going on, what are the things you’re trying to do?” Boles said. “The things they were talking about were: How do I have a different fan experience? How might I improve my operations of the stadium?”

Richardson said there is not “mass adoption” of the app yet, but by visualizing the data collected by the sensors and using it to inform the ASU app, the IOT at Sun Devil Stadium has the ability to improve logistics and assist fans on gameday.

For example, the stadium team could send a push notification to fans in a certain section informing them it would be best to use a certain exit over another one.  

ASU and Intel also partnered with Dublin City University in Ireland to explore smart stadium technology. Richardson said that the two sides have a “healthy competition,” and use it to share “what’s working and what’s not.”

Boles said that the tech implemented for the jumbotron sound meter would actually serve a different purpose at DCU’s Croke Park. Since the team is located in a residential area, Boles said they saw an opportunity to use the sound meter technology to keep the noise in check.

“They implemented deeper, we implemented broader,” Richardson said.” We learned a lot from each other.”

In terms of future possibilities at ASU, the IOT technology also allows commercial buildings to increase the visibility of data that has green benefits.

“As I look at what has evolved over the last few years with how easy it is to connect things, having that connectivity, easy to get that information up and do analysis, it’s really making it more affordable as well as easier to deploy these kinds of solutions that commercial buildings can benefit from to reduce their overall footprint,” Boles said.

Boles said the IOT is the next “big wave” of technology connectivity, one that she said she sees as being bigger than wireless technology and smart phones. ASU and Intel are looking to ride that wave with the IOT infrastructure they have created in the south end zone, and with future deployments of the technology.

“We really looked to help change the conversation on ASU,” Richardson said. “If you can show people what’s possible, then you can start to change a conversation.”

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