Each experience re-imagines how we might watch and perform sports through virtual, augmented and mixed reality applications
EE and BT Sport hosted an event at StoneX Stadium (the home of Saracens rugby in London) yesterday (9 March) to unveil a series of pioneering uses of 5G. Each experience re-imagines how we might watch and perform sports through virtual, augmented and mixed reality applications.
Using smartphones, tablets and TVs, as well as AR wearables and VR headsets, the new prototypes provide fans with new ways of engaging, including live, latency-free graphic overlays; live volumetric representations of the action, enabling you to spin around and watch from any angle; and AR environments that make it possible for you to watch multiple virtual screens of live action along with augmented graphics.
For rugby, EE and BT demo-ed real-time, data-rich AR insights including ball trajectories and kick distances. For boxing, it showcased immersive holographic videos, putting fans much closer to the boxers as they fight.
The most ambitous AR experience was reserved for MotoGP (main picture above), with EE and BT showing a prototype providing an immersive race presentation through a virtual multi-screen viewing suite, with up to 17 different video panels. You could see this through wearable XR glasses, or through a tablet or smartphone.
The AR included an at-scale circuit map showing the position of riders throughout the race, together with a Parc Ferme area offering full-size 3D renderings of team motorbikes with spatial audio.
All the prototypes are the first outputs from an EE and BT Sport-led project called 5G Edge-XR. The project demonstrates how EE’s 5G network, paired with cloud graphics processing units, can enable consumers to view events in a range of new, immersive ways.
5G Edge-XR is supported by The Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), The Grid Factory, Condense Reality, DanceEast, Salsa Sound and The University of Bristol.
Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport, said: “EE and BT are again demonstrating the powerful creative and operational benefits that 5G technology can bring to sports and broadcast. These new experiences, which capitalise on the breadth of broadcast and mobile expertise across BT and EE, re-affirm the important role that 5G will play in re-imagining how sport is watched both at stadia and via television.”
Lisa Perkins, research realisation director, BT, adds: “Our work at Adastral Park alongside world-class innovators including BT Sport and our 5G Edge-XR partners demonstrates how EE’s 5G network can support services that deliver uncompromised audio and visuals. We’re excited to be unveiling experiences that could transform sports, culture, and the arts as well as demonstrating the benefits 5G can bring to people and businesses.”
The different 5G Edge-XR Experiences being showcased
Providing fans who are at the game with never-before-seen match insight and companion experiences, the application provides real-time mixed reality overlays on smartphones, tablets and AR headsets. Features include game data overlaid onto players, ball trajectories, gain-line visuals, kick distances, possession data and alternative camera viewpoints. Additional features under consideration include alternative partisan commentaries, localised stadium advertising and route-finding info to the stadium.
A first-of-its-kind immersive sports-viewing experience, bringing live fights from the ring into the front room. It provides a real-time volumetric video to create so-called ‘holographic boxers’ who are synchronised with the live TV broadcast. The volumetric video can placed for example on a viewer’s coffee table while they watch the live fight on their TV. Replays can be watched in slow-motion from any angle during breaks, together with fight data. Additionally, a Hype Mode feature provides an entertaining broadcast experience with fun, action-themed on-screen descriptions for key moments and punch tracers lined with graphics such as blazes of fire.
The ultimate augmented reality motorsport fan experience. The prototype provides an immersive race presentation through a virtual multi-screen viewing suite offering 17 different video panels. In addition, viewers can access an at-scale circuit map showing the position of riders throughout the race, together with a Parc Ferme area offering full-size 3D renderings of team motorbikes with spatial audio. Content viewable on the 17 live video panels includes: race helicopter view, bike-cams on up to seven different bikes, replays, timing panel showing individual racer timings, and, interactive leader board showing the position of riders in the race.
Offers an immersive ‘like being there’ experience for football fans. It provides an immersive experience utilising the BT Sport App’s existing 360-degree service combined with spatial audio and dynamic graphics to provide 8K 360-degree multi camera viewpoints, screens showing the live TV match feed, team sheets and match info, embedded match information graphics showing teams score, clock, and an interactive timeline that enables users to directly jump to key events within the match. In addition, it provides spatial audio specific to the camera location and orientation of the user.