Do US Open organizers really think the iPad is dangerous?

September 8, 2010

venuswilliams The organizers of the US Open pride themselves on using technology to help tennis fans enjoy the sport more both inside and outside the stadium.
But, as far as iPad is concerned the tournament’s tech love affair only goes so far, as the grand slam organizers appear to have banned the device from the stadium itself.
Some visitors to Arthur Ashe Stadium learned about this the hard way; by being turned away from the gates when security guards found them carrying the offending gadgets.
Given that the event organizers take space on their website to boast about their iPhone app, it was not immediately clear why its bigger cousin the iPad should be forbidden.
One security worker explained to a disappointed fan of both tennis and the iPad that the ban was due to concerns about  terrorists.  “They’re  using iPads to detonate things.”
Really?  A US open official was not immediately available on Wednesday to verify this was the tournament’s official stance.

Hidden in the security section of the visitor’s guide to the US Open website is a list of items prohibited from the event including computers and laptops as well as video recorders.

But the irony was not lost on tech reporters and executives attending the game on Tuesday night because US Tennis Association has been reasonably forward looking when it comes to technology.  The event’s tech boasts include an augmented reality iPhone app that IBM developed for the USTA. That  app promises to warn you about the quickest bathroom lines or   off what’s happening in other courts if you point your phone  in the right direction.
You could also enjoy the action of simultaneous matches by flicking between video streams on devices such as iPad.

Yet even Joe Ambeault, a product development executive for Verizon, explained how he was held up on his way to Verizon’s suite at the stadium because his bag included an array of gadgets such as an iPad, a laptop and some smartphones.
Then Ambeault went on to discuss how devices like iPads could be used to expand the use of Verizon’s FiOS video and internet service and improve enjoyment of sporting events, or at least those events where they are allowed.

(Reuters Photo: Venus Williams celebrating a win that gives her a spot  in the US Open semi-final)

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