When the Sacramento Kings’ $507 million new stadium opens in October, it will boast a hanging bundle of video screens 84 feet long, just shorter than the court. It will also have technology that’s much less visible—the arena is being built with a high-capacity WiFi system intended to give fans fast internet access on their mobile devices, similar to what’s offered by a home broadband connection according to MIT Technology Review.
The arena’s WiFi network alone will be able to handle “over 500,000 Snapchat posts per second,” said a team spokesman.
One motivation for that is to give fans the ability to Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook their time at the game. But another was to enable experiments with virtual reality, says Paul Jacobs, vice chairman and co-owner of the team, and also executive chairman of mobile chipmaker Qualcomm. Fans could be given an up-close experience of the action no matter where they’re sitting, he says.
“Whether they’re way up in the high seats or they’re in a box but not sitting courtside, you still want to give them that courtside experience,” says Jacobs, who was Qualcomm’s CEO between 2005 and 2014, the MIT Technology Review said.
There aren’t firm plans for exactly when virtual reality headsets or mobile VR viewers might be tested in the stands. Jacobs says that the technology will inevitably be part of the future of sports, so it made sense to create the necessary network infrastructure now.
One use case, as reported in the MIT Technology Review, would be to offer instant replays using virtual reality to give fans relatively far from the action an up-close experience. In the long term, Jacobs says, some fans may even prefer to pay for a seat in a movie theater-like space inside a stadium with high-end VR headsets rather than a conventional seat with a poor view.