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From Drone to Virtual Reality: How Golf Is Now a Favorite Test Site for New Technologies




A 5G-capable drone flying over the course at the recent Open de Espaa in Madrid.

Image: European Tour

Drones, twins, and virtual reality applications aren’t usually golf-related kits, but they’re exactly the tools that are currently being tested on European tours of sports.

At the recent Open de Espaa in Madrid, European Tour and Ryder Cup CTO Michael Cole and his team worked with telecom giant Telefnica to use drones to provide better footage and television. We have tested how to improve the quality of the broadcast. They tested tethered drones and roaming drones, both connected via 5G.

“Incorporating it into the back-end process was part of the use case we were testing,” says Cole. “We wanted to see how we could bring the drone’s end-to-end capabilities into our work process and production engineering workflows.”

Cole’s team pioneered another new use case at the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth, England earlier this year. The team combined virtual and extended technologies to build what’s called a digital twin on a gaming technology platform.

Reference: Innovation is difficult.There are five ways to make this easier

They created a full-fledged representation of play from other holes on the 18th green scoreboard. This digital animation showed the hit of the ball, the position of the ball, and the comparison between the players. According to Cole, the animation allows spectators to see what’s happening around the course and is keen to work with other technology companies to explore how the animation can be scaled up. is.

“This was a proof of concept, so we worked with the developers, but in the future we would like to work with other technology partners to drive the concept,” he says.

In fact, the innovations on the course of the European Tour are not limited to drones and virtual reality. According to Cole, his organization works with partners in a variety of pioneering digital fields, including big data and mobility.

Imagine an innovation lab. It’s unlikely that you’ll think of a slow-paced golf green, but right there, more and more IT companies are testing new technologies.

Cole believes that these innovative proofs of concept will not only bring great benefits to sports players and fans, but will also provide showcases for potential applications of digital technology in other sectors.

“We are the ultimate innovation platform for organizations to work together and we can use our platform to try out new technologies,” he told ZDNet.

Analyst Gartner said the Innovation Lab can boost digital transformation initiatives by streamlining the process from idea generation to implementation, making it an ideal place to work with external technology partners. It states that there is.

Cole states that setting up and playing the European Tour will be the perfect place to test digital innovation.

Each of the more than 40 events on the tour across 31 countries is held annually in a short time frame. According to Cole, the technical settings at each of these venues are like temporary smart cities, where connectivity, cloud-based services and sensors are essential to operational activities.

Proof-of-concepts can be brought into these temporary tech-enabled playfields, set up, run, and then quickly scaled up or down.

Cole: “We are the ultimate innovation platform.”

Image: European Tour

Adding a huge number of viewers around the world of golf gives Cole and his colleagues 700,000 data points collected from players in each tournament, resulting in a reliable place to try out new ideas. became.

“We can test our abilities in a very demonstrable way for four days in a golf tournament,” he says. “In addition, I think there is important learning that can be shared across the industry as we can introduce emerging technologies in a very realistic and very real way.”

Leading technology partners such as Tata, Zoom and Capgemini are already helping European tours test innovative ideas. Cole expects other companies to join soon.

“There are more technology partners than ever, probably more than any other sports owner, and more technology partners in the future. This is the key role technology plays in golf. It shows a change in the reputation of the golfer, “he says.

Rather than being considered a service to the business as it used to be, technology is now considered a potential cash generator.

“In the past, everyone considered the tech department as a cost center. It was all overhead and all costs. Now I’m running the income statement and creating value for the organization.” He says.

See: What’s the secret to being more creative at work?Why timing is key

According to Cole, the key to creating value is to get the most out of the vast amount of data that IT organizations collect.

“We are currently collecting more than seven times as much data as before. You may not hear that much, but it’s all real-time strokes by all players. This is from an evolutionary point of view. , A big step forward for us. “

Mobile technology is very much in mind when it comes to providing new data-driven services to key sports stakeholders, Cole says.

IT teams can enhance the quality of the customer experience by providing real-time insights into player performance and quickly delivering it to fans on the course via mobile devices.

Cole says the move to data-driven mobility is a major sport change from the years before he last talked to ZDNet.

“When I was brought to the tournament stage, my cell phone was still frankly frowned upon,” he says. “Now it’s an essential asset for all the audiences who control access, it controls the scope of the services we offer, and it’s a valuable source of content.”

That’s why European Tour works with IT companies to test new ideas in a variety of emerging areas. This is also the case with R & A, the governing body of golf and the organizer of the British Open.

CTO Steve Otto says his organization is working closely with technology partner NTT DATA to explore how innovation can help improve sports governance, management and operational activities.

“Technology is unique to the whole way golf is played,” he says. “We are getting more and more from the data and are constantly looking for how its role in sports is evolving. It is to generate more and more knowledge about where the game will go next. I think.”

See: Who is the best golfer ever?There may be an answer to this data-driven project

Returning to the European Tour, Cole’s team explores a variety of other technologies, including cloud-based services, 5G connectivity for operational efficiency, and on-course status monitoring and management using the Internet of Things and sensors. Continues. As a weather condition or disinfection station.

The comprehensive message is simple and there will be more innovation in the future. “We need to keep looking at things as a whole. Technology is moving so fast that it’s very difficult to predict anything with certainty,” he says.




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