A Super Bowl Worthy of Silicon Valley

February 06, 2016 by Murray Slovick

This year's Super Bowl is the most technologically advanced. Find out how Levi's Stadium is setting a new standard for how we experience football.

The Super Bowl, being hosted for the first time in Silicon Valley on Feb. 7, will be a technology tour-de-force.

Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is the first professional football stadium in the United States to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. Solar panels pump out 500,000 kilowatt hours of energy, and on game days the stadium achieves a net-zero energy usage.

Free Wi-Fi is provided in the stadium with 12,000 access points (Wi-Fi boxes are under every 100 seats), offering five times more capacity than the average in-stadium network so fans can snap and upload selfies to Instagram to their heart’s content. Four hundred miles of fiber and copper cable handle the data flow.

If you want to call home during the game, cellphone signal boosters serving all four major carriers are placed above the 40-yard-line seats.

Under-the-seat cellphone signal boosters help keep selfies on point.

A fingerprint scanner is used to make certain party crashers don’t gain access to the home team locker room (in this case the home team will be the Denver Broncos; the AFC champion is the home team for even-numbered Super Bowls and this is Super Bowl 50).

High definition video boards above both end zones are 48 feet tall and 200 feet wide.  There are also 2000 Sony TVs around the venue. But if fans want a closer look, they just need to turn to Levi’s Stadium’s own mobile app. The app provides replays of most plays so they won’t miss anything if they have to visit the restroom.

The app’s wayfinding feature allows fans to navigate to any point of interest in the stadium including their seat (the venue employs hundreds of Bluetooth beacons to do this; Bluetooth must be enabled on a device so the app can determine your exact location). Fans can also get information about line wait times to plan concession or restroom trips at the best moments. 

The Verizon stadium app keeps fans connected, informed, and fed.

By navigating to the Food and Beverage section of the app and ordering “Express Pickup” from the nearest concession stand—payment can be made ahead of time—fans can skip to the express line to get their food. Alternatively, they can skip the trip altogether and order “In-Seat Delivery” to have food delivered to their seat. 

In the stadium’s Yahoo Fantasy Football Lounge, LED ribbon screens present a stock-ticker-like stream of fantasy statistics, so fantasy football addicts and inveterate gamblers can track of how their fantasy team is doing.

Of course Super Bowls involve more than the actual game and stadium—they are week-long events taking place in the surrounding community. With that in mind the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee has a “Road to 50” app including interactive maps of the San Francisco Bay Area with a schedule of events such as the “NFL Experience.” Sponsored by Hyundai and located at the Moscone Center in San Francisco (about 40 miles away from the stadium), the NFL Experience includes interactive games, opportunities to meet NFL players of the past and present, a display on the history of the game and an up-close look at all past Super Bowl championship rings plus a photo opportunity with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which is presented to the Super Bowl champion.

Also downtown In San Francisco there is “Super Bowl City presented by Verizon” (by now it must be evident that everything even remotely connected to the game has a corporate sponsor), centered on a 40-foot tall Fan Dome where fans become players as they step into interactive games. A 50-foot wide by 15-foot tall video wall (the “Fan Wall”) will display the leader boards and stats from the interactive games, user-generated content, social media visualizations and live video feeds from around Super Bowl City.

The interactive Breakaway game at this year's Super Bowl

In the interactive game “Breakaway” (above) participants can throw passes, dodge oncoming defenders, and score touchdowns. As players score more points, the pace of the game gets faster. When players are doing well, the entire area erupts with lights and sound to create “Fan Energy Moments” throughout the Fan Dome.

“Quarterback Challenge” brings virtual reality into play. By using a virtual reality headset, fans can “become” a pro quarterback, simulating training drills from completing a pass in practice, to leading their team to victory in a game-day scenario. Gaze detection technology allows fans to select which receiver they want to throw to and a hand held trigger will measure timing and accuracy.

Even the approximately 7,000 volunteers helping to make the Super Bowl experience a good one will be connected. Enterprise software company SAP worked with the host committee to develop an app that connects, provide training for and helps Super Bowl volunteers manage their shifts.