In-seat charging, 5G, enhanced WiFi and eSports stadiums will be among the biggest trends in in-stadium technology during 2018, according to IBM sports and venue executive Benjamin Brillat.

In a piece for SportTechie, the chief architect for IBM’s Global Sports & Connected Venue services team said technology would have a major impact on the more than 60 new major sports stadiums that are set to open between now and 2020.

In identifying four major trends, he said that “in 2018, building a great stadium, means great technology.”

With the adoption of wireless charging from mobile companies, in-seat charging has been made possible for stadium designers. Brillat said the ports, which can be placed into the armrest of a seat, can be built to be waterproof from the elements and from spilt drinks.

WiFi upgrades are on the books, after the new standard of 802.11ax WiFi allowed for a number of design changes that specifically address “high density” WiFi deployments, such as a stadium.

Meanwhile, 5G mobile networks, which aren’t due to become mainstream until the early 2020’s, are in the plans for the opening of any stadiums that are being designed today, according to Brillat.

Evidence of 5G technology already beginning to take hold, is that AT&T is rolling out a product called “5G Evolution” at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis next week and, Intel is deploying 5G services to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Finally, Brillat notes that eSports is pushing its way to the forefront of stadium technology design, with the first dedicated stadium already opened in the US, the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles.

Brillat said: “In order to provide a great experience for a live e-sports event, infrastructure and facilities must be in place for gaming.

“Most importantly, everyone needs a great view of all of the in-game action – only visible on a screen.

“It’s in conflict with the traditional design of a stadium, where the field or court is first, and the screen is typically a secondary element to help you see “better.” Instead, if the screen is the primary focus, the flow and design of the facility can be radically rethought.

“E-Sports stadiums will not only bring in their own fan base, but will push the envelope for technology to be integrated in stadiums for all kinds of sports.”

Image: Mercedes-Benz Stadium