September 6, 2003
Purdue to create wireless football fan experience
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Boilermaker football fans at Purdue University's Ross-Ade Stadium this fall will be able to score up-to-the-minute statistics, player and coach biographies and other electronic "infotainment" using personal digital assistants (PDAs) while cheering on the home team.
The prototype, known as e-Stadium, is a partnership among Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), Purdue's Center for Wireless Systems and Applications, and Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics. Purdue is receiving $1.2 million from Cisco Systems Inc.; $600,000 will be used to prototype the electronically connected fan experience and $600,000 in cash and equipment will be used to enhance the university's network infrastructure
"We started out discussing a technology exposition area with athletics, and that quickly evolved into the wireless fan experience," said James R. Bottum, Purdue's vice president of information technology and CIO. "As we continued talking to the athletics department, our Center for Wireless Systems and Applications, and Cisco, our goal grew into the idea of giving Purdue fans a total electronic 'infotainment' venue."
Beginning with Saturday's (9/6) season football opener against Bowling Green, a test group of fans will be able to access up-to-date game statistics (including all plays), complete rosters and biographies of players and coaches, and trivia questions. Eventually, other electronic options, such as real-time scores of other games, ordering food and beverages, and even sending e-mails to the coach, will be added. Bottum says e-mails sent to coach Joe Tiller during games will be used during the coach's radio and television shows.
Fans in premium seating and suites will comprise the initial test group, with 150 PDAs synched up at the Bowling Green game. Plans are for university President Martin C. Jischke to get his game-day PDA for the Arizona game on Sept. 20 and for students to join the test group as the season progresses.
ITaP has installed 16-20 access points for wireless access at the stadium and has put e-Stadium through a successful initial test.
The e-Stadium prototype will evolve into a wider e-Athletics@Purdue network.
The network will have a home at an exposition area in a new building at the northeast corner of the football stadium, according to Morgan J. Burke, Purdue's director of intercollegiate athletics.
"The exposition area will extend to other sports besides football," he said. "In addition to offering wireless access, this facility will incorporate a cyber cafe and feature EPCOT Center-style interactive technologies."
Displays in the exposition area are in the planning stage, Burke said.
Bottum said there's more than fun and games involved here. Plans are to expand the wireless system to link up game-day law enforcement from the city, county and state that are involved in stadium security. So, for example, if there were any type of natural or human disruption at the game, police could quickly circulate information wirelessly. Plans are for this part of the system to come online during basketball season or later.
Bottum views the university as a small city. He calls it the Living Laboratory, where 50,000 students, faculty and staff and tens of thousands more on game days can access data and information as easily as plugging an electric cord into an outlet.
Center for Wireless Systems and Applications director Catherine Rosenberg, said: "The e-Athletics initiative started as a true partnership among our center, ITaP and Purdue athletics. We shared the same vision of an integrated team involving students, faculty and staff to research, design and deploy the network and the exciting applications to provide infotainment to sport fans at Purdue."
Students are working with ITaP staff to create the game-day experience in developing new e-Athletics wireless applications.
Engineering dean Linda P.B. Katehi sees the public-private partnership as an investment in the university's educational and electronic infrastructures that is beneficial for both the university and Cisco.
"It's a partnership," Katehi said. "The Living Laboratory concept is a chance for Cisco and other vendors to develop and test potential products and speed new technologies to the marketplace."
Purdue's Center for Wireless Systems and Applications (CWSA), which will carry out the research and development, is a multidisciplinary center combining the university's resources in engineering, sciences and information technology.
Rosenberg, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said 85 Purdue faculty members from 11 academic departments are represented at CWSA.
"We view the e-Athletics project and the Living Laboratory concept as opportunities for our center to design and ultimately test integrated solutions for the next generation of wireless systems," Rosenberg said.
Cisco Systems Inc., headquartered in San Jose, Calif., manufactures and sells networking and communications products that transport data, voice and video.
Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Purdue athletics media contact: Jay Cooperider, (765) 494-3197, email@example.com
James Bottum, (765) 496-2266, firstname.lastname@example.org
Morgan Burke, (765) 494-3189, email@example.com
Linda Katehi, (765) 494-5346, firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Rosenberg, (765) 494-0034, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
A publication-quality photograph is available at http://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/bottum.cisco.jpeg.