Whether it’s rooting for or against the perennial powerhouse New England Patriots or just to watch the commercials, more than 100 million people around the world are expecting to watch Super Bowl LI at NRG in Houston on TV on Feb. 5.
With all those eyeballs on The Big Game, NFL league officials and TV executives do whatever they can to make sure the technology around the stadium and during the broadcast on Fox is better than any they’ve ever seen.
NRG Stadium has long been home to two of the largest HD displays in professional sports, a pair of Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision digital HD boards at each end of the stadium that each measure 53 feet high by 277 feet wide.
This year, the stadium will debut Daktronics LED ribbon displays above each end zone, making it 13 straight years the company has been part of the Super Bowl.
The Daktronics ribbon boards measure 2 feet high by 343 feet wide and complement the ribbon displays Daktronics installed in 2014 in the east and west areas of NRG Stadium and the 360-degree ribbon display installed in 2008 in the lower area of the building.
That means a total of 4,400 feet of Daktronics ribbon displays encompass NRG Stadium.
NRG Stadium also features a Daktronics marquee display in front of the venue to welcomes fans as well as promoting upcoming events.
Prior to kickoff, Daktronics’ professional services team will be at NRG Stadium for pre-event checks. During the game and after the game, event support staff will be there to ensure everything runs smoothly.
“We prepare for these moments just like the coaches and players practice for the game,” said Daktronics VP of services Sarah Rose.
NRG Stadium has also added about 600 solar panels at Bud Plaza on the south side of the building in anticipation of Super Bowl LI. Reliant has also installed LED lights since it hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, which is expected to cut down energy usage by 80 percent. The LEDs turn on instantly and can change color and intensity.
Guests can also recharge their phones using the NRG Go Pack, which will be available at six different NRG Go Stations throughout the complex.
Be the Player
The FOX broadcast feed will feature as many as two dozen player’s eye view clips from Super Bowl LI in a feature called Be the Player. The feature, based on Intel’s 360 Replay technology, models the real world so that virtual views from any location can be generated.
Intel has installed 38 5K cameras bolted onto the building’s metal structure high above the field at NRG Stadium. These cameras feed visual data back to a rack of servers elsewhere inside the stadium, which can digitally reconstruct the 3D world of the game, representing real objects using 3D pixels, known as voxels.
To reduce the data processing load—around one terabyte for a 15 to 30 second clip—during a game, many of the features inside the stadium, including the field itself, are pre-rendered by the servers. Only moving objects like the players need to be added in real time.
Here’s an example of how Be the Player works:
Extreme Networks will help Super Bowl attendees consume 4TB of data during the Big Game and WiFi coaches will be in the stands at NRG Stadium to help them maximize their enjoyment.
Denver-based integrator PingHD installed and manages content for 388 menu boards at NRG Stadium. This year, the company is syncing content on four screens around the building, says chief technology officer Kevin Goldsmith.
Stadium technology specialist WBL Services is relying on Gefen equipment to support the on-site video distribution for Super Bowl LI. WBL will use a Gefen Pro 32×32 HDMI matrix as the central hub in its control center for video distribution throughout the stadium. The matrix will convert camera video footage into HDMI and distribute it to multiple displays, using HDbaseT technology to extend signals up to 330 feet.
Maybe next year will be the one when the Super Bowl is streamed online or shown in virtual reality. We wonder how many more people would watch the game if it were offered in those formats too.