Business leaders, team owners, and technologists gathered Wednesday at GeekWire’s inaugural Sports Tech Summit to discuss how technology is influencing professional sports. But Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, warned attendees not to get too caught up in new technologies that are still emerging.
“We still haven’t beaten the kiss cam as a fan favorite during timeouts,” he said, as the audience laughed.
It’s not that Ballmer thinks there’s no role for technology in professional sports but he did say much of the innovation is for show and doesn’t necessarily have a measurable impact.
“Right now the focus on technology, a little bit, is looking cool,” he said.
Ballmer did say that he expects augmented reality to become an increasingly important aspect of the fan experience. He also noted that the Clippers’ head coach “hates phones” because they distract fans from supporting the players on the court.
Ballmer’s advice for the Sports Tech Summit crowd was to think critically about the problems new technology aims to solve.
“Walk through every position…ask not what tech can do for them but what do they want and where does tech fit in?” he said.