World Cup 2023: ICC’s First-Ever Global Hackathon Unearths Innovations For A Better Digital Fan Experience

Vishnu Anand

Mar 26, 2023, 04:49 PM | Updated 04:48 PM IST

The winning team, ‘Fanisko’, at the NextIn cricket hackathon flanked by ICC Head of Digital, Finn Bradshaw (left) and hackathon ambassador, Dinesh Karthik.
The winning team, ‘Fanisko’, at the NextIn cricket hackathon flanked by ICC Head of Digital, Finn Bradshaw (left) and hackathon ambassador, Dinesh Karthik.
  • The ‘Next In’ hackathon witnessed participation from 12,500 people across 113 countries
  • The final round was held in Bengaluru with cricketer Dinesh Karthik inspiring youngsters to continue innovating
  • Improved fan experience, augmented reality, Web3 and metaverse were some of the target areas for tech solutions in cricket
  • It is that time of the year when franchise cricket makes its way into our summer calendars.

    Right now, we are at the cusp of the Women's Premier League (WPL) handing over screen time to the  Indian Premier League (IPL), pretty much completing our summer holiday through franchise cricket.

    But if you look at the larger scheme of things as a cricket enthusiast, you’ll realise that the biggest International Cricket Council (ICC) event of the year — the World Cup — starts in October, across stadiums in India.

    By kickstarting its first-ever tech hackathon in January and announcing the winners now, ICC, through its FinTech infrastructure partner Nium, is looking to truly leverage tech to enhance its digital fan experience for the 2023 World Cup.

    Futuristic Tech Solutions For Better Cricket Experience

    The ‘Next In’ hackathon culminated in Bengaluru last week, with five teams out of 10,000, making it to the finals. The solutions included:

    — A blockchain-based loyalty and incentive system for cricket lovers, by allowing them to accumulate loyalty points through purchases, interactions and discovery.

    — A team from Greece leveraged geo-tagging to envision an in-stadia experience solution that uses virtual reality to help stadium-goers have a superior on-ground experience.

    — Closer to home, a Chennai-based  team created a working metaverse platform — pretty much a virtual stadium with a museum, and a sponsor showcase.

    — Another interesting innovation was one where metaverse is used to reach out to fans in rural areas, by virtually allowing them to share content and participate in live contests.

    — The winning entry from a team called Fanisko, created a solution that enhanced live cricket viewing experience through 3-D Augmented Reality, allowing users to play the game in real time from the comfort of their homes.

    The team’s solution based on Web AR technology, can integrate within the ICC app and offers in-depth player insights, bringing cricket spectators closer to the action.

    The ICC global cricket hackathon jury in Bengaluru, listens to the presentation of one of the finalists.
    The ICC global cricket hackathon jury in Bengaluru, listens to the presentation of one of the finalists.

    Dinesh Karthik was the hackathon ambassador, and other judges included ICC head of Digital, Finn Bradshaw; Nium vice president (Product Management), Jaya Kapur; Nium head of Crypto and Web3, Joaquin Ayuso De Paul and Picture Board Partners, founder and executive director, Unmish Parthasarathi .

    Karthik’s Advice To Youngsters

    The average age of participants at the hackathon was 26, and speaking to the young and dynamic bunch, Dinesh Karthik, a marquee player for the Royal Challengers, Bengaluru IPL franchise, said, “Invest in your skill and in yourself. It’s more valuable than money. Never take the short escape route of getting money.”

    Dinesh Karthik inspiring youngsters, speaking at the event.
    Dinesh Karthik inspiring youngsters, speaking at the event.

    Speaking on the role of technology in his gameplay, he added, “When you have played a lot of matches over a period of time in an IPL season, say fourteen matches, as a player you’ll develop a pattern. Just the way you are looking at that pattern, the rest of the teams are looking at you as well. So, they know when Dinesh Karthik walks in, this is what he is bound to do. You have to be clever enough to break that pattern and change something about your game so you catch them unaware. This is where technology comes into play”.

    Role Of Tech In Correcting Gameplay

    He explained : “If you take a look at my wagon wheel or hawkeye, a ball pitched in a certain place, I would be playing it in a very certain way. Let’s say there are 45 balls in the same spot and I’ve done exactly that, the next time I get to the crease 50 other players from all the other teams have deciphered that if we bowl him here, it’s only going to be a dot ball. I’m not consciously aware that there’s this one ball that troubles me. Technology will tell me which are my vulnerable ones, and that allows me to go back to my coach for feedback.”

    The FinTech Connect To Cricket

    Nium was founded on the premise of building the global payments infrastructure of the future. Its collaboration with ICC is primarily to increase brand awareness, recruit the best talent and become an innovation partner that makes a difference.

    “All of the entries in the hackathon showed how technical innovation are flourishing in the global cricket community," said Jeremiah Glodoveza, senior vice president and head of Global Marketing at Nium. "The future of fan engagement is bright and I cannot wait to see some of these ideas become part of the game."

    ICC’s Commitment To Tech

    The registered teams were from a variety of different backgrounds including schools, colleges, corporate business and start-ups.

    While ICC has always leveraged tech to provide better quality of cricket — both for the players, administrators and the audience — this is the first time it has participated in a hackathon to directly stimulate ideas and working protypes that are aimed at furthering the cause of cricket across the world.

    ICC head of Digital, Finn Bradshaw said, “The 'Next In' Hackathon has been an incredible exercise in unearthing some of the most innovative solutions from the global tech community. As we went through this journey for the first time with NIUM, what was really exciting was seeing fans from over a hundred countries engage with our sport. Today we are proud to have crowned Fanisko as winners and believe their prototype has the potential to become a favourite product for cricket fans.”

    With the year’s most important global cup coming up later, the time is right to unlock new innovations and tech solutions, and the best approach for this is of course to put young innovators in the driver’s seat.

    Vishnu Anand is a writer and journalist who dabbles in technology, sports and lifestyle. His columns have appeared in 'The Hindu', 'Deccan Chronicle' and 'Mid-day'. He is also a social worker and an evangelist of truth.

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