NBA All-Star Game 2016

The Advent of Interactive Sports Fan Tech

Note: Today’s post comes from Allan Calder. For more on Allan, check out his Google+ page!

Once in a while you come across a topic that you just can’t wait to sink your teeth into – figuratively speaking of course! That happened to me when I was watching the news the other day. There was a piece about Microsoft’s(**) new augmented reality technology and how it could potentially be used to enhance a sports broadcast. In this case, they were showing how the technology might work during an NFL game broadcast – it was simply stunning to say the least.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about Microsoft has been working on a technology they call Hololens which is meant to be used in conjunction with your computer in order to augment your reality. This is not virtual-reality, it’s not a full immersive system, but it may actually be something better. With this technology you still see the world around you, but images are superimposed over that reality using the Microsoft Hololens technology.

In the NFL example we used above you might be able to view a 3D holographic projection of the stadium that the game’s being played in, or pinch and zoom the playing field to get a better angle on the image you want to see. The possibilities are literally endless.

This alone is pretty great, but the new experiences afforded to sports fans by new interactive sports fan technologies don’t stop there.

Smart Phone Interaction

It isn’t just your living rooms where technology is changing the way we view sports either. We’re also now able to view live sports events on our smart phones as well. This means that we are no longer tied down to our living rooms if we have somewhere to go. If the kids have a dentist appointment you can still watch the big game while you’re waiting for them in the waiting room. There are other advantages to viewing the big game on our smart phones as well. You can quickly check game stats and player’s stats as the game rolls on.

Apps That Augment Our Sports Experience

As I write this article I’m watching the NBA All-Star game and while my experience of the game on my television hasn’t changed much at first glance, there are actually quite a few differences that lie just under the surface. For one thing the NBA has partnered with Intel to take advantage of their FreeD technology to augment your experience of the game. They use this technology in combination with access to the NBA’s app to enhance your viewing experience.

What the FreeD viewing experience entails is the ability to see the game in a full 360 degrees, giving you any viewing angle you like. To do this they’ve used 28 ultra high definition cameras to record the game from every angle. These different viewing angles can be accessed using the NBA’s own app while you’re watching the game on your TV so that you can view a replay from a different angle to gain a different perspective. All of this adds up to an immersive experience that we’ve never had access to before.

Interactive Apps Built into Our TVs

No matter which country you live in there’s a good chance that your TV service now offers apps to augment your viewing experience while you’re watching sports. Usually this entails a button on your remote which you can push to access the app while you continue to watch your live event. Generally these built-in apps are used to view in game statistics as well as background information on your favorite players. The amount of information you can access is quite impressive and is just one more example of how technology is changing the way we interact with our favorite sports broadcasts.

Editor’s note (1): You can find many of these apps on an Apple TV, Roku, or similar Internet-enabled devices — if you have one of those instead. Check out this blog post for more information on how to stream sports (and other content) to your TV.

It’s a Brave New World

The examples we’ve talked about above are just a few different ways the technology is changing the way we watch our favorite sports. These are certainly exciting times to live in and I can’t wait to see what true virtual-reality immersive technology will bring us in the future.

It really is a brave new world.


**Editor’s note (2): as a reminder, the owner of this blog (Tom) is an employee of Microsoft. This needs to be disclosed whenever Microsoft or things related to Microsoft are discussed.


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