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Techno Super Bowl

The January/February issue of SI Kids is all about the first 49 Super Bowls: the alltime great players, the biggest plays, and the most memorable moments. But on, we're looking to where the Super Bowl is headed. From the fan experience, to the halftime show, to how we relive the game once it's over, it all comes down to technology.

And we'll get a glimpse of the future at Super Bowl 50.

Levi's Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers and the site of this year's Super Bowl, opened in 2014 as the NFL's most advanced facility. It has three times more fiber optic capacity than the typical stadium, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas, and 2,000 televisions that can each show a unique feed.

"There were a lot of things that had to be developed from scratch — antennas that could be placed in the bowl underneath the seats in each section so that there was good capacity for as many people to be online as possible at the same time," says Lanson Nichols, Vice President of Sports Architecture for HNTB Corporation, the firm that designed the building.

Keeping people connected is vital to the super-useful Levi's Stadium app. Most teams have a mobile presence, but it's typically limited to accessing info like seating charts and stats. The Levi's app goes way beyond that. It allows you to see where you are in the stadium, how far you are from your friends, and the locations of concession stands. It also manage things like your tickets and food orders.

Creating an active fan experience was important to the owners of the 49ers and HNTB. Nichols says there were times when they talked about Levi's as a smartphone. The stadium was built to create new ways to connect fans to each other and to the experience of watching live football.

That kind of open-armed embrace of technology has the potential to reshape what we expect when we attend an NFL game. And it will get its biggest test when 70,000-plus fans from around the world pack Levi's for Super Bowl 50. Not only will they witness history, they'll help mold the future of the Super Bowl.

"I think it will do really well," Nichols says. "It will set the bar. Technology is another tool in the experience, and I think we've barely scratched the surface of what it'll be able to do."

Photo courtesy HNTB/Jim Simmons