Slicing Sync: How Network Slicing Can Change the Game for Live Sports Accessibility

By Ulf Ewaldsson, President of Technology, T-MobileDecember 15, 2023

Slicing Sync is a Q&A series with entrepreneurs and technologists excited about the future of network slicing

Picture yourself in the stands at a football game. The sights, the sounds, the excitement of the crowd as fans feed off each other while they watch their favorite team drive the ball down the field. There's nothing quite like it.

Now imagine being in that same spot - but unable to fully take it in. Maybe your seat is too far away or at an awkward angle, a person in front of you unknowingly blocks your view, or you can't hear the announcer as the crowd chatters. These are common conditions, and for many, this environment leads to exclusion.

For instance, many fans with blindness or low vision are often excluded from enjoying live sporting events due to non-descriptive and delayed broadcasts. Radio and other description from friends and family are useful, but fundamental details like the location of the ball or player are missing altogether or delayed. Fans are often waiting for description while the crowd roars!

Our friends at OneCourt Technologies, Inc. have made it their mission to change that. They’re developing a device that uses haptic technology to convey what is happening during the game through touch, enabling fans to watch the game with their fingertips. They’re working with our team at the Tech Experience 5G Hub to bring the idea to life with 5G and network slicing. I sat down with CEO Jerred Mace to discuss how our network will make all the difference.

  • Ulf: Why is 5G – and in particular network slicing – so important in this case?
  • Jerred: Real-time connectivity is EVERYTHING here. We need to receive and process data as the action is happening and relay it to the fan without delay so they don’t feel like they’re being left behind. This requires extremely reliable and ultra-low latency (or responsiveness) – more optimal than most other applications require. Only standalone 5G can deliver what we need to make this successful in live environments – to utilize network slicing  allows us to ensure we are getting the performance we need for this specific service – even when there are tens of thousands of other fans at the stadium creating network traffic doing what fans typically do at sporting events. Because of network slicing and traffic management, regular fan network traffic should not impact the experience for fans with visual impairments who are using OneCourt’s app – and vice versa.
  • Ulf: How is OneCourt evolving in the future?
  • Jerred: We would like to incorporate live generative audio description to increase immersion and contextualize the haptic experience. Have you ever seen someone at a game listening to the play-by-play on their radio? Typically, the audio is massively delayed, and by the time they hear the announcer describing what happened, the game has already moved on to the next play. This is why standalone 5G and network slicing are key. We can ensure we have optimal performance and the latency necessary to deliver the action to fans – through touch and sound – in sync and literally as it happens.
  • Ulf: What role has T-Mobile played in the development of this game changing idea?
  • Jerred: We came to the 5G Hub as a student project – now we’re a full-time startup! The team here has helped us build it from the ground up – from technical support and integration, industry mentorship, key introductions, prototyping and now working to incorporate the most advanced standalone 5G capabilities including network slicing.

OneCourt is just one example of the exciting and innovative use cases we're working to bring to life. And I am so proud for T-Mobile to be a part of something that will no doubt make peoples' lives better.

To learn more about OneCourt, check out their website. And stay tuned for more to come!