Will the Apple Watch find its way onto the football field?
Earlier this week Apple revealed the release date of their long-awaited wearable tech offering: the Apple Watch. Demand is expected to be high for the company’s first original product since the iPad came onto the scene in 2010, and consumers can purchase it on 24th April. The announcement has surely got brands clambering to ensure that they are ready from the off with their apps specifically designed for the watch.
With just under a million tweets over the 24 hour period since the event mentioning “Apple Watch”, it is already piquing interests and sparking conversations. Purchasers will be wearing a watch with up to 18 hours of battery life that can make and receive calls, send and read messages and emails, and, of course, they’ll be able to update their status on Facebook and Tweet to their hearts content. Oh, and it tells the time.
Football stakeholders across the world will no doubt be watching on with interest and evaluating how they can adopt it into the industry. So, how can it?
Referees are already wearing watches synced up to the – so far hugely successful – goal line technology. Why not go a step further and provide them with Apple Watches that can show them instant replays of crucial decisions? Was that offside? Did that player dive? It could solve the argument that going to a fifth official watching a TV could take too long.
Players won’t be allowed to wear watches in matches, but they could in training. The Apple Watch comes with the technology to tell you what distance you’ve travelled, at what speed, and what your heart rate was when doing so. They’re already using influencers to document their experience of using the watch in training. We’ve all seen the heart rate monitors attached to players chests at training, could this replace that and then some?
Football datatainment experts Opta have recently introduced Statzone, which takes match stats in real time and presents them as graphics which can be used by clubs on screens before, during, and after the match. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t progress this onto an app for the Apple Watch that could be used to feed live data to the bench, enabling them to make informed decisions on substitutes based on performance data.
BBC Sport and Sky Sports, along with performance data platforms such as Opta and Squawka, could look at adapting their offerings specifically for fans that own an Apple Watch. No more fumbling about for your phone in your pocket to check the score on a Saturday afternoon while you’re being dragged around the shops by your other half: all you’d need to do is slightly raise your wrist.
Wearable tech has been a square on the industry buzzword bingo card for the last couple of years and, just under a year ago, Google Glass looked as though it had made a breakthrough into football. That was to be short-lived though as Google announced in January that they were ending sales of the eyewear in its present form. We’ve already seen Manchester City become the first club to release an app for the Android Watch, and there’s no reason for them to not do the same for the Apple Watch. If it’s a success for City, other clubs will follow their example. Wearable tech has a place in football, the potential opportunities are there. If nothing else though, it’ll give footballers a chance to splash their cash on some solid gold wearable tech bling for their wrist.
You can read more from Chris at his blog thespmrkt.