Published on 08 June 2023

Sport and innovation: our favorites

Orange co-innovates with start-ups to help invent the future of sport and new ways to share it. Discover our five favorite technologies, where innovation is improving the fan experience.

Un supporter tient son smartphone entre les mains et suit un match

By working with SportTech start-ups, and combining our network and platform know-how, we’re making innovation accessible to as many people as possible so that everyone can experience and share the emotions of sport.

Making sport more open to all

Digital innovation offers spectators with disabilities new ways to enjoy sporting events, such as via the Touch2See touchscreen tablet, which won last year’s Orange EvenTech Challenge. Enriched with live audio description, haptic feedback, and a vibration system, the match is brought to life via touch for fans with visual impairments so they can fully enjoy the game.

photo tablette haptique et de vibration Touch2see
Touch2See, a tablet with a magnetic disc to mirror the movements of the ball and players during a football match

Some sports such as horse riding require silence so as not to disturb the animals or athletes, making them difficult to follow. To help spectators in the stands, the start-up Odiho developed an audio streaming app that provides a real-time commentary on what’s happening in front of them, so they can follow along using their smartphone and headset.

Making sport more accessible also means simplifying the understanding of the game. The Weezl chatbot helps fans brush up their knowledge through tutorials, videos and a chat interface that explains refereeing decisions, analyzes each athlete’s performance, and explains the lesser-known rules of certain sports.

“Our aim is to provide a unique experience to spectators who want to soak up the atmosphere and understand the game. To do this, we leverage our high-performing fiber and mobile networks as well as our ability to secure and supervise them.

The start-ups we support complement our know-how with technologies ranging from AI to high-quality audio processing and streaming, and on-board electronics with precise mechanical interfaces.

This results in instantaneousness, simple, and immediate uses that we’ve already tested in real-life situations with real user feedback: such as the touch tablet at the Orange Vélodrome during Olympique de Marseille matches, audio commentary during Equita Lyon 2022 and Roland-Garros 2023, and the game chatbot during the three French rugby matches during their 2022 autumn tour.”

Bertrand Rojat, Marketing & Innovation Director at Orange Events, responsible for the Paris 2024 innovation roadmap
voilier en mer, vue sur 2 hommes à la barre

Immerse spectators into the event

To enhance live broadcasts, private 5G networks can now stream high-definition, real-time images from on-board mobile cameras right within the race. This means viewers can feel like they’re part of a peloton sprint, get up close to a sailboat crew in the open sea, or even fly over an athlete to follow their progress via a drone.

To share these immersive and spectacular images, Orange and its broadcasting partners rely on small, lightweight devices, network speed and performance, low latency, and service prioritization enabled by private 5G.

Another immersive innovation that enhances competitions for fans is volumetric 3D video. This technology enables 3D replays, where the viewer can move around the pitch and at the same time choose their angle of view to review a goal, relive a moment under a basketball hoop, or watch a BMX Freestyle performance from a new angle – all via a smartphone or even more immersive VR headset.

“These images enable viewers to enjoy a more immersive live experience during a competition. Our challenge is to make them more authentic for the fans and easier and more responsible for the broadcaster to produce.

That’s why we rely on private 5G networks that can be deployed rapidly while guaranteeing speed, latency, and security; equipment that offers the best video processor and network technologies; and AI-enabled edge and cloud server infrastructure for near real-time volumetric image processing.”

Caméra portative filme un cycliste en pleine vitesse sur une route, payasgae de montagnes
Bertrand Rojat, Marketing & Innovation Director at Orange Events, responsible for the Paris 2024 innovation roadmap

“In the spring of 2022, Orange launched the EvenTech Challenge involving the entire innovation ecosystem in France. This initiative is supported by France Relance in partnership with the 5G Event Labs consortium (founded by Orange with CEA Tech, INRIA, and Ericsson), along with Cisco, Intel, the French Tennis Federation, the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee, and Sport Unlimited. Five start-ups were selected from more than 130 applications. We’re now working with them to test their innovations at a range of Olympic sites.

This win-win approach illustrates our open innovation vision and how we’re helping high-potential innovations to accelerate their go-to-market process. We’re promoting groundbreaking tech in 5G platforms and networks while enabling start-ups to deploy innovations in the field during major sporting events, which ultimately benefits everyone.”

Christophe Rufin, Director of the Paris 2024 Innovation Program at Orange Innovation

These innovations were presented during live demos at the VivaTech show in Paris in June 2023.