Ahead of the 2nd Annual Immersive Technology in Sports & Entertainment in San Francisco next month (November 13-14) we spoken to James Carwana, General Manager at Intel Sports to hear his thoughts on the size of the immersive market in sport, new technologies to watch out for and the growing trend and value of fan generated content.
(1) How is Intel applying immersive technologies to change sports viewing both now and in the future?
The next generation of how fans enjoy sports will be more than just watching - it will be interactive, immersive, personalized and focused on social interactions. We are applying the technologies and capabilities available today to provide a comprehensive and completely new experience for fans. As new technologies evolve, the experiences we create are designed to adapt and grow along with what fans and the industry want to see.
(2) How large do you anticipate the Immersive Tech sports market to become by 2025 and which technologies are you most excited by?
We expect the industry to be over $10 billion by 2025. Immersive experiences will build on the passion fans already have for sports, and give them new ways of understanding and interacting with content. We are incredibly excited about the volumetric video technology we are building. The technology will create virtual cameras at any place on the field-think of watching a play through the eyes of the quarterback, a defender, or the ref. Additionally, computer vision combined with the recent breakthroughs in machine learning will make it possible for fans to play video games that intersect with (real) live games, or emulate very specific nuances of how the pros play the game.
(3) How do immersive technologies influence the evolution of linear-digital broadcast strategies?
Immersive media will enable digital broadcast to be reshaped from the ground up for the interactive and digital medium. There are two ways to think about this. First is the value it brings to broadcasters. It provides tools that broadcasters can use in their analysis. For example, at halftime back in the studio, analysts can zoom in for closer looks, debating calls while showing the play from the referee's view, the sideline and the player's perspective. The second is the fan experience and what they see on TV. I appreciate defence in basketball. I would love to periodically put myself into the shoes of the best NBA defenders as I watch a game, and really get into the nuances of how they play the game. You freeze on a moment in the game and drop into a view from under the basket as a 200-pound forward charges the basket, dunking right in your face. Similarly, I would love to immediately try to recreate an incredible Lionel Messi goal in a soccer video game, and share that with my friends. These interactive experiences are converging with digital media due to immersive media technology innovations to augment current linear broadcasting.
(4) How will immersive technologies impact fan created content and personalization in changing how we consume and create content?
Personalizing a fan's content is key. By understanding a fan's interests, immersive technology can give fans what they want to see, when they want to see it. Within a virtual environment, our associate producer can move around to find the best place to experience the action. Think of it like a bumblebee flying around the stadium with no restrictions on where it can go. There are no cables or guardrails, whether the view is from inside Tom Brady's helmet as he looks for an opening and throws a touchdown pass or on the heels of a cornerback during a game-changing interception. In addition, creating experiences that are integrated to let fans do simple editing and tell their story allowing them to become the content creator. Making these capabilities available on personal devices, notifications and recommendations are at their fingertips giving fans snackable moments and increasing their overall engagement with the game.
(5) Are you excited by the prospect of 5G technology and do you believe this will fast-track uptake of immersive tech?
Absolutely. 5G will further enhance the experiences that immersive technology can bring to fans. Immersive media is a data-intensive workload which is why Intel is the right company to be enabling these experiences. 5G creates an additional capability to allow fans to go deeper into the content they love.
(6) Are there any particular types of technologies the Intel Sports team are looking to develop or add to their current suite?
Yes, a streaming volumetric cloud. This will give content creators a groundbreaking capability to better tell stories and give fans an opportunity to do what they've never been able to; create their own highlights and be part of the action. Going back to Lionel Messi as an example, imagine using technology to zoom in and rotate around a 3D clip of a game winning goal. You drop into a view from Messi's perspective and watch it all over again, flinching at a defender's charge, bracing for the goal. Panning around Camp Nou, the crowd roars. These are the types of fan experiences technology can unlock and the seamless interaction we look to create - in the game, to relive the experience.
(7) What are you looking forward to most at the Immersive Tech in Sports & Entertainment Summit in SF this November?
Immersive media represents an opportunity to bring fans a way to live the magic of sports in ways they can't in real life. We must work together as an industry to achieve this goal. I'm looking forward to learning from other thought leaders in this space and identifying opportunities to work together to bring the future closer to today. How can we make some of these "what if we can do this" scenarios into reality and how can we accelerate them by working together?