Can HBO's PunchForce Technology Give Boxing A Second Wind?
PunchForce, a new technology designed to "measure the speed and force of a boxer's punches and transmit that information instantaneously to viewers" of HBO's boxing broadcasts, "could help this struggling sport fix one of its most nagging flaws,” according to Tony Olivero of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The system would offer “perspective about what actually took place between contestants, enhancing the ability of viewers to judge the judges.” It could give boxing “a second wind at a time when fight fans increasingly are turning to mixed martial arts, or MMA, a form of combat that more often ends with decisive knockouts.” The technology “has yet to launch,” but the Nevada State Athletic Commission “already has approved the use of PunchForce.” The FCC “granted approval to PunchForce in February, essentially ruling that it wouldn't interfere with other transmissions.” But the device “remained on the sidelines” for the controversial Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao bout. Precisely why PunchForce is not “expected to play a role in any imminent bout ... isn't clear,” as the technology is a "closely guarded secret at HBO.” An HBO spokesperson said that it was “premature to discuss the technology.” But a source said that HBO is “planning a high-profile launch in January.” The source said the launch will be part of a "rebooting of the HBO boxing franchise." PunchForce “still must get the OK in other states.” In addition, boxers would “need to agree to wear the sensor on their wrists" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/26).