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Game On: Accenture Experiments with Wearables and the Live Sports Experience

February 11, 2015 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Is there anything better than seeing your favorite team score from a great seat in the stadium? Maybe. While sports fans everywhere extol the virtues of live action and stadium comraderie, there’s also something to be said for the kind of real time commentary and analytics you are privy to at home, via your television and mobile devices. So what if you could have the best of both?

As the Official Technology Partner of the RBS 6 Nations Rugby Championship, Accenture thought it was worth a try. Having experienced much success with its RBS 6 Nations Championship mobile app, which leverages Accenture’s analytics acumen to offer Rugby fans insights and information they can’t find elsewhere, Accenture decided it was time to “experiment with how to engage the sports fan even more,” according to Ben Salama, Managing Director, Accenture Digital, Mobility. Salama and his team set out to create an experience that would deliver real-time analysis and relevant data of games that share curated content via a wearable headset.

Accenture6NationsWearablesTheir innovative proof-of-concept will be unveiled the weekend of February 13th during Round 2 of the tournament — England vs. Italy; Accenture will host a hospitality event in which its guests will be treated to food, beverages, and, for some, the loan of a pair of Google Glass. While Salama looks forward to hearing guests’ feedback on whether the test enhances the live sporting event, he is even more enthusiastic about what experiments like these can lead to for both the consumer and enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) market.

“In the end, our guests might say this turned out quite cool, which would be nice. But just think about what this could be extended to: In Rugby today, teams sew GPS trackers into athletes’ shirts so the team can analyze performance. Now imagine a sports fan buying a replica of his favorite team member’s jersey and, with the IoT, they could feel a tackle happen.” Salama believes that trials like these will lead to enhanced fan experiences in addition to new “unconventional revenue streams.”

He describes this proof of concept as “a tiny, tiny step” toward realizing the possibilities presented by wearables and the IoT, pointing out Accenture’s other experiments with wearables:  a 2014 partnership with Philips on a proof of concept app to help ALS patients, and an earlier one in which they delivered patient information to surgeons on Google Glass. Salama believes there are many use cases for wearables and the IoT, particularly in four key areas: connected health; connected spaces; connected transport; and industrial applications. “You can effectively have an expert looking over your shoulder whether you are down a mine shaft or on an assembly line. But you can also have access to maintenance manuals, checklists, and all sorts of things that make workers more efficient and more effective.”

Underpinning all of this experimentation and innovation is data. A lot of data. “Data is the Holy Grail. Without it, all of this is irrelevant,” said Salama. “Every single one of these applications is about creating insights and actionable outcomes from the data these devices are collecting—be it a GPS in a football player’s shirt or a sensor on a water pipe.” The analytics make the applications useful. “Without that, it is just rubbish.”

Salama does worry about security in a world in which we are collecting so much data and controlling such a wide range of physical devices digitally. “We are all aware of the security problems with personal information on websites. That is a drop in the bucket compared with the risk we could be exposed to when our entire industrial world is connected—every sensor in an airport, factory or power plant is connected.” As such, Accenture is working with partners to ensure the security of connected devices and data.

Because this category of technology is in its early stages, Salama noted that experiments like those with the 6 Nations Rugby Championship, Phillips and other partners are essential for both exploring the possibilities of wearables and the IoT, but also for tackling some of the risks and challenges in real world settings. “The only way we can help our clients is to have experimented, to have tried and gained real knowledge.”

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