Tennis Goes High-Tech, and That’s Just in the Stands

Rafael Nadal had taken off his shirt and sat facing away from the box seats in Chatrier Stadium.
Suddenly, a man talking on a cell phone whipped out a small digital camera. His shaved head gleamed in the sunlight as he snapped several photos and glanced at his camera screen.
All across this year’s French Open, thousands of tennis fans find themselves immersed in the flow of images gushing from video screens, tablets, and smartphones.
From late morning to early evening, about 20 young men and women mingle with the crowds walking from Chatrier to Lenglen Stadium, about 150 yards away. Smiling, they ask passersby if they have a moment for a technology demonstration.
“This is a new technology,” said Rayane Bouchemit, 22, a law school student who supervises a team of workers hired as demonstrators who carry placards with wireless devices resembling green bullseyes. “This is to access Roland Garros services,” he said. Moving his smartphone to about two inches from one of the bullseyes, the smartphone received an instant signal and opened a page on the Roland Garros Web site.
Bouchemit explained that a technology called near field communications, or NFC, activates a special computer chip inside the cellphone’s SIM card to connect to the Web site via satellite.
Tennis fans using near field communications, he said, can skate to the Roland Garros pages without the split-second delay of taking and emailing a picture.
As technology increasingly dominates their lives off the court, some of the world’s top players are pushing it inside the baseline.

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