Some of the biggest names in English football are partnering with Intel to make their matches more immersive.
In 2018 alone, technology investments into sports reached nearly $1 billion. Despite this impressive commitment however, the industry is far from immune to disruption, as consumer behaviour continues to shift among sports fans. This ongoing consumer migration is driving developers, leagues, and brands to look for new ways to meet the expectations of supporters with more powerful, meaningful, and emotional experiences. This of course makes immersive technologies an ideal candidate among corporations.
“Imagine watching a season-defining moment, then reliving it from any angle including from the perspective of your favourite player as they run up to take a penalty or make an improbable goal-line clearance.” That is the promise that Intel’s latest partnership is selling to fans of the three most popular clubs in Premiere League Football (or soccer if you’re American).
Beginning March 10th, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City supporters will be able to experience the matches biggest from every angle, whether they’re watching a live broadcast, or reliving the post-match highlights from their clubs’ official website, mobile app, or social media account.
The feature will be delivered via Intel’s True View technology, which will be rolled out to the Emirates, Anfield and the Etihad stadiums. The program will also include a “Laser wall” – a virtual plane giving viewers a clear picture as to where players are positioned on the pitch – as well as “Be the player” functionality, which freezes a particular moment in the match so you can see the pitch from the eyes of a particular player. This last one promises to be not only fun for the fans, but also presents tantalizing possibilities for commentators and referees as it gives you unique insight into tactics, decisions, and play outcomes.
“Intel True View enables fans to immerse themselves even further into the game and has the power to add a new depth to match highlights, which can significantly improve the supporter experience,” explains Billy Hogan, Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer, Liverpool FC. “This technology has the potential to add a new dynamic to how people interact with the game and create different conversations with our fans around the world.”
The process uses volumetric capture whereby footage is recorded from 38 5K ultra-high-definition cameras capable of capturing height, width and depth of data to produce what are called voxels (pixels with volume). After this content is captured, huge amounts of data is processed with servers powered by Intel Core i7 and Intel Xeon processors. The software then re-creates all the viewpoints of a fully volumetric 3D person or object, and the information is rendered into a virtual 3D environment where you can experience all the plays and angles with 6 degrees of freedom. This will re-create the action on the pitch and present it to fans from various vantage points – effectively allowing them to choose the point of view from which they want to experience a particular play.
“With dedicated supporters across the globe, football fans are passionate about the tactics as much as the goals scored, and Intel True View will highlight the immersive experiences unique to the style and skill of football,” adds James Carwana, Vice President and General Manager of Intel Sports, who believes the technology has the potential to transform the experience for fans of the beautiful game: “Immersive media experiences continue to create more opportunities for sports teams and leagues to put the fan experience first,” he adds.
The fact that three of the biggest names in the world’s most popular sport are on board with this shows how major sports brands are getting wise to the power of immersive technologies in terms of engaging with fans.
“We have seen the impact this Intel technology has had in other sports leagues across the world and are excited that it will be installed at Emirates Stadium,” says Peter Silverstone, Commercial Director of Arsenal FC, which has a staggering 780 million fans around the world. “This partnership will give our fans a whole new view of the game, as the technology effectively allows a supporter to step into the boots of players and see the game from their perspective”.