IoT and AR in Football
Written By: Delaney McDevitt
11/7/2019 Read Time : 5 min

Football is an American pastime that has been around for decades. Every fall, people gather in homes, bars, parking lots, and stadiums to cheer on a team. Under one common love (because let’s face it, people don’t usually just like football), people gather every week. As someone who grew up in New England and went to college in the South, I’ve had my fair share of exposure to every type of football fan imaginable. College and professional football have their differences (I would never argue otherwise), but the way fans create rituals and develop a passion for their beloved teams is at least one thing the two have in common.



In the evolution of football, technology plays a major role. At the forefront are the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR).

As rules and regulations have changed, so have the ways we watch the game and experience it. Most fans don’t go to a game without their smartphone these days. Schools, stadiums, and leagues have had to adapt to the constant need we have to be connected on social media to share the experiences before, during, and after a game. The experience of the game needs to include the viewers, no matter where they are, whether it’s through an app, on a TV, or in-person. Similarly, the behind-the-scenes and on-the-field strategies are changing for teams as new resources become available to improve their performance, game plans, and ability to compete against other teams. So, how do IoT and AR factor into these new strategies for football teams?

IoT has given us the ability to connect products and processes to collect vital data. Industries like automotive and aerospace thrive on how IoT has improved production and customer experiences. Why not take this same technology and implement it to collect data in the world of sports? Furthermore, why not use it to make the experience more fun and interactive?

Augmented reality takes the live data available through IoT and decorates the physical world with it. That virtual yellow first-down line on the field you see while watching a football game on TV? Augmented reality. This particular application in football isn’t new—it actually first debuted in 1998. What is new, though, is the use of AR filters to show team spirit and brag to others when the team comes out with a “W.” Combined, AR and IoT deliver an enhanced way to watch and interact with the sports people love in a convenient, fun, contextualized way.


1. Broadcasting
Thanks to technology, fans watching the game from home are just as in tune with the live action as the fans in the stands. The evolution of the yellow first-down line is just one example of AR on game days. This yellow line that was introduced 21 years ago has evolved over time as it caters to a real-time depiction during the game. The 3D animation appears on the screen to assist viewers. Broadcasters also use AR in visual trajectories of a ball or player with virtual lines and graphic overlays. Could you imagine watching football on TV without all of the visual assists?

2. Fan Experience
Improved in-venue experience with real-time insights delivered to fans quickly and efficiently. This includes apps that are catered to specific stadiums and customized fan experiences for everything from ordering tickets to in-person and virtual interactions with team, game, and stadium features. In and out of the stadium, fans can access AR experiences.

3. Stadiums
“Smart” stadiums are a great example of digital transformation as they connect products, processes, and people with innovative technology. A theatrical experience has been integrated seamlessly into the physical structure of stadiums to enhance fan interactions on game days. The motivation to draw fans from couches to stadiums comes with an infrastructure of new technology. This technology leverages IoT to collect real-time data using sensors and cloud-based platforms. What does IoT benefit? Think, parking, restrooms, concessions, and more, which are all accessible quickly and at the palm of your hand with a smart device. Take this stadium for example, which also keeps fan safety in mind. Fans are directed from the parking lot to their seats in the most efficient route and can instantly communicate with stadium security via the app with any concerns in a discreet two-way interaction.

4. Marketing
Football teams have taken advantage of the marketing opportunity that apps on smartphones and tablets provide. Using these devices, fans can download a team or social app to use filters that show team spirit. These apps can depict live data from the game (e.g. the score) that can then be shared on social media. Along with smartphones, TV broadcasts also cater to the audience. Using digital advertisement overlays with AR, brands can tailor content to regions. The ads seen on the side of a stadium target audiences and change on TV but remain static in-person.

5. Training
The world of football has come a long way since the early days of leather helmets and barely-there-padding. Today, gear is designed to improve player performance with IoT, which makes it smart and connected. This includes shoes, shirts, and mouthguards that collect data that coaches and players can analyze. When it comes to the actual training, there are various AR apps available that connect to the player’s gear to guide practice routes and create simulations. These 3D simulations give athletes real-time feedback as they follow the AR on the screen. By improving performance, they are also more likely to reduce common injuries, like concussions, which is reflected in the data collected from apps and wearables.



Working for a company at the forefront of IoT and AR has given me a new appreciation for the technology that makes these “everyday” experiences come to life. Experiencing gameday and watching a football game with IoT and AR in the palm of my hand (literally), has given me an appreciation for the great leaps and bounds of technology in the digital age. I know that I personally will take a moment this football season to share my knowledge of this technology and how it works with friends and family.

War Eagle and Go Pats!

Tags: CAD Electronics and High Tech Education
About the Author Delaney McDevitt

Delaney McDevitt is the marketing copywriter for the PTC Academic Marketing team. In her role, she creates content that embodies the Academic team's mission to empower students and educators to succeed in the digital transformation era.

As a professional writer, she has experience in copywriting, editing, email marketing, content strategy, blogging, document design, and creative writing.