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Hacking Hockey

Waterloo students use 5G technology to develop the future of sports fan engagement

As the cold weather hit the region, University of Waterloo students designed some hot new ways for Canadians to enjoy NHL Hockey. The Sportsnet Hockey Hack Powered by Rogers 5G was a collaborative weeklong event that introduced high profile partners to the ingenuity of UWaterloo students to help shape the future of sports tech innovation.

Waterloo’s Velocity, Stratford School of Design and Business and GEDI partnered with Rogers, the NHL and Intel to offer students the first opportunity of enhancing hockey fan engagement through 5G technologies. Students used real datasets of NHL puck and player tracking from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to power their ideas and offer new solutions that Sportsnet could incorporate into their viewing experiences.  

The NHL, and many other sports leagues, were put on hold as COVID spread throughout the world which further highlighted the need for new methods of fan engagement. As leagues begin to recommence without fans in the stands or with limited attendance, the search for ways to further engage audiences beyond in person experiences has never been more important. The advances of 5G technology and its low-latency capabilities have created new opportunities for fan interaction. That’s where our incredibly innovative students stepped in and offered their unique solutions for Canadian hockey fans.  

From strangers to teammates  

Armed with the problem statement to provide Sportsnet and NHL fans an unmatched viewing experience that delivers immersive, social-safe, and fun engagements both inside and outside the physical arena by leveraging 5G, teams began creating their initial ideas towards winning solutions. These new teammates worked to create their initial ideas and began building the front and back ends of their hacks.

“Working with four strangers, when we haven’t even met, was quite challenging but interesting as well because I got to learn so much from them. It was a great opportunity,”

Navpreet Kaur, Game2 team member and Masters of Electrical & Computer Science student. 

After receiving customer feedback from UWaterloo community members, teams adjusted their approach to improve or adapt the features of their solutions — all while receiving support from their dedicated coaches.

In addition to coaches, students had access to a roster of highly experienced mentors who answered specific questions, helped implement technical changes, utilize the full potential of new technologies and provided feedback on the students’ ideas. This offered students the opportunity to work directly with industry contacts, build their networks and showcase their capabilities to successfully design with customers in mind.

“This hockey hack was a crash course for me in applying all the skills that I’ve learned from my courses and put it into a real-life case. I looked at it from the perspective of business creation by solving these problems.”

Karthik Prasanna, Master of Business, Technology and Entrepreneurship student and The Great Ones team member.

A race to the final buzzer

As the week came to a close, teams prepared three minute pitches to distill their solutions and showcase their designs. High level representatives from Rogers, Sportsnet, The NHL, Rogers, and the University of Waterloo made up a prestigious judging panel. They selected the three teams they felt best addressed the problem statement, applied the capabilities of 5G technology and created a unique offering to further engage hockey fans. Introducing the winning teams from the Sportsnet Hockey Hack: Powered by Rogers 5G.

Congratulations to our winners 

First place: Game2

Game2 created new advanced stats to bring fans the game within the game and bring new player metrics to the world of fantasy hockey and betting.  

Game2 team lineup featuring: Mathew Maradin, Navpreet Kaur, David Radke, Rachel Li, and Braden Hill who spent the week hacking hockey

Second place: The 5 G’s

The 5 G’s brought us Fan Fortune, a new micro-betting experience for fans inside the arena and at home to predict next actions in hockey games.  

The 5 G's team lineup featuring: Tamania Majeed, Phillip Shaviri, Basil Alkhatib, Omar Naman, and Elyssa Smith who spent the week hacking hockey

Third place: The Great Ones 

The Great Ones developed NHL Party, a multi-screen 5G streaming platform to watch hockey games with friends and other fans.  

The Great Ones team lineup featuring: Joesph Green, Oliver Horner, Suji Sathiyamurthy, Karthik Prasanna, and Nathan Miller who spent the week hacking hockey

This weeklong hackathon brought some incredible ideas to light and great progress was made, but this is just the beginning. Winning teams have the opportunity to continue developing their idea with increased support from our partners to further build their 5G concepts. Follow Velocity on Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the progress these teams are making and hear about other exciting opportunities like this Hockey Hack.