The Big Game: 4 Cool New Technologies to Look for at Levi’s Stadium




You’ve probably heard that there’s a huge football game Sunday. We can’t actually say the name because the NFL frowns upon the usage of the “big game,” but we’re going to assume you might be watching it, maybe enjoying a beverage and some wings, or other sporty culinary delights.

In the hype leading up to the game, players are profiled and interviewed, there’s an avalanche of human interest stories, and people party like they just don’t care. What doesn’t get covered however is the stadium where the game takes place. Sure, the city gets named checked, there’s tons of imagery of the stadium, but there’s not much press reported, unless something happens like, oh, the lights going out like they did a couple of years ago.

This year’s game takes place at Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. It’s the home of the San Francisco 49ers, it’s the NFL’s newest stadium, and it’s got all kinds of bells and whistles. Take a look at these engineering and technological marvels:

Free WiFi (that actually works!)

Most stadiums have free WiFi so spectators can snap selfies and post on social media (we’ve all done it). However, free WiFi and WiFi that actually works are two very different things. The new stadium ensures this won’t be a problem. If it is, there’s a staff of “Niderds” roaming the stadium ready to help out. During construction and to work on the technological backbone for Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers employed about 30 engineers and developers. They helped develop and build the infrastructure to make the experience a positive one. Here are some stats to how they got there:

  • There’s 400 miles of cabling, 70 of which are for WiFi
  • There are 1,200 access points, 600 of which support the 45,000-seat lower bowl
  • There’s one access point to every 100 seats within the bowl
  • Levi’s® Stadium became the first stadium to carry 40 Gb/s of Internet capacity

At peak during a 49ers-Broncos preseason game, there were 20,000 concurrent users, or an average of 15,000 for the afternoon.

Sustainability meets technology

Stadiums are huge and they use a ton of energy to run, so planners and engineers were cognizant of how to lessen the footprint of having such a huge structure. Engineers accomplished this, or at least, lessened energy usage by constructing a 27,000 square foot green roof, installing 20,000 of photovoltaic panels and using paving and roofing materials with a high solar reflectance index. Among other things, the stadium uses controllable and programmable lighting control systems and thermal comfort control systems. The central lighting control system lets stadium staff easily and conveniently illuminate only certain areas of the stadium for special events, like concerts.

To help illustrate the enormity of the stadium, here’s a timelapse video of the stadium being built:

C’mon let’s all get appy

People attending the game will also have access to ticketing and parking, food and beverage service, and high-quality video replays – all from an app on their smartphone. The app has had more than 80,000 downloads so far, and during a recent game, 1,000-plus food-and-drink deliveries were made in a 10-to-12 minute range after a given order was placed (the goal is to be under 20 minutes). We’re going to guess that this data is also being gathered and will be used to drill down on what fans are drinking and eating at games to provide different eating options.

Image: Levi’s Stadium under construction. By FASTILY

Scoring with LED

If you were grabbing a beverage from the concession stand or using the bathroom, you might have missed a crucial play. Fear not, you’ll get to see it again, played on one of two huge LED video boards that anchor the stadium. The display located in the north end zone measures approximately 48 feet high by 200 feet wide and the display in the south end zone measures approximately 48 feet high by 142 feet wide. The resolution and dimensions of each display allows for high-definition video to be shown in the form of live video and instant replays. Each display can also be sectioned into multiple smaller sized windows to present fans with a variety of up-to-the-minute statistics, scoring information, sponsor advertisements, and other graphics and animations.

Read here how PTC helps a customer build massive LED structures and displays.

This we know: fans attending Sunday’s game will experience a high-tech affair, use less energy, watch hi-definition replays on huge screens and can order food without leaving their seats. Let’s hope the game is as good. And the lights stay on.

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