This Sunday’s Superbowl will be the latest US sports championship to be presented during the COVID era. Kudos to the NFL for pulling of its season and post-season largely on schedule and without too many hiccups—though there were plenty. The Superbowl has become such a spectacle over its 55-year life, that it long ago transcended the actual sport for which it is declaring a champion. People will watch it for the ads, the celebrity-studded half time show, and so that they don’t miss out on whatever, meme-able mishap occurs that everyone will be talking about the Monday after.
The Superbowl has also been a showcase for new, marketable consumer technologies due to the world-wide viewership. Inventive new on-field camera technology, full-size holograms, augmented reality and, of course, those tragic inflatable air dancer things all made their debut during the Big Game. So what will we have to look forward to this year: cardboard cutouts of fans! Yes, in addition to the 20K+ ‘real’ fans in attendance, there will also be plenty of their cardboard compatriots there to keep them company. Not exactly bleeding edge techy stuff.
Years ago, we made a bold prediction in this column that, by the time this 2021 Superbowl rolled around, we would be immersing ourselves in rich VR-driven environments that would give us the feel of actually being at the game while from the comfort our living rooms. This VR tech would unite us all in a brave new world of enhanced entertainment that would have infinite possibilities for marketing and the overall enjoyment of a major event. It would have been perfect for this year – virtually watch from inside the stadium with the scent of hot dogs and vegan pitas abound (yes, we also wrote about the innovations in digital smell technology, which use electric impulses to transmit odors via the internet). So what do we actually get in 2021: cardboard cutouts of fans! (With, fortunately, no digital odors).
I’m not too proud to say we missed the mark here but, then again, who could have predicted how COVID would have changed our world—or anything else that has transpired over the past year or so? In many ways, we have moved in a decidedly untechy direction. Good old-fashioned paper cutouts will be the ‘innovation’ most people see at the Big Game. But there is hope: over the last year, people have moved in droves towards conducting business as paper-free as possible from their home offices, and they have embraced technologies like RMail email encryption and RSign e-signatures to do away with paper in their daily communications. We saw our usage of our main products increase magnificently as we helped secure more (home) offices and help people do more without the struggles of printing, signing and scanning – at least those people who embraced our successful Pandemic Work-from-Home (Free E-Sign E-Security) Program last year. (If you missed out, contact us to get stared free.)
One prediction I am much more confident in making is that this transition will be lasting for reasons of convenience, security, environmental protection, and increased productivity. After e-signing so many important documents and realizing so many of these benefits, is anyone really going to go back to faxing/mailing important documents now?
So let’s hope for an entertaining game Sunday where those cardboard fans don’t get too unruly and storm the field after a last second touchdown.