SAP Watch

May 16 2013   1:52PM GMT

SAP SapphireNow 2013: Could in-memory, biometrics have saved Korey Stringer?

Todd Morrison Todd Morrison Profile: Todd Morrison

ORLANDO — Could SAP — in conjunction with sports apparel makers like Under Armour, help prevent heatstroke that sidelines athletes every year — or in the case of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer, leads to their death?

At Tuesday’s SapphireNow conference keynote speech in Orlando, SAP’s big message was about how the confluence of big data, in-memory technology and software is changing the face of sports and sports entertainment.

The many interesting aspects of this were highlighted in a keynote panel discussion with SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott; Adam Silver, deputy commissioner and COO of the National Basketball Association; Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers football team; and Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour.

Much of the discussion revolved around using biometrics technology to create a better fan experience, from ticketless stadiums and the ability to order concessions from your seat, to being able to crunch reams of data. The speakers also covered how the technology can be used to draft better NFL teams.

But the more interesting discussion built off a comment by Plank about how Under Armour is developing clothes with biometric sensors that could help raise or lower an athlete’s body temperature as needed.

The idea is that not only could the technology be used to regulate the athlete’s body temperature, but the data could be pulled out of the sensors and analyzed in real-time using SAP HANA in-memory technology.

Coaches and trainers equipped with handheld devices could use the data on the practice or game field to determine who’s in danger of overheating or over-exerting themselves and needs to be pulled for his or her own safety.

“You’re going to have a healthier, safer game,” York said.

While York focused mostly on organizations and fans not wanting to see team members hurt, you can imagine teams wanting to protect players given the vast sums of money they invest in them.

But could that data be used in other ways?

The NBA’s Adam Silver predicted that biometric data will one day be provided, in real-time, to fans watching the game.

Imagine, for instance, watching Kobe Bryant standing at the free throw line, knowing not only how Bryant typically fares when there’s less than two minutes left in an NBA championship game in which they trail, but what his pulse is doing at that very moment.  Is he panicking, or is he calm?

Fans would love it, Silver said.  “That’s going to increase their level of engagement.”

Would that make professional sports more interesting, or is it too creepy?  Apart from the biometrics issue, will knowing performance benchmarks in any given situation add or take away from the game?

I guess we’ll find out.

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