Virtual reality experts at Washington State University are allowing fans to essentially become their own live sporting event producers with some interesting new technology.
3D-4U Solutions, a virtual reality engineering company based in Pullman, Wash., launched its own interactive viewing system at WSU’s renovated Martin Stadium. Guests in the 26 suites now have access to four “3D-4U” cameras feeds that capture 180 and 360-degree views of the game.
Gone are the days when you fumed after the TV broadcast failed to show a replay of that great pass or interception. Users can now focus in on any player, coach or speck of grass from virtually any angle both during live action and replays.
The cameras are placed strategically around the stadium to capture full panoramic video, and each suite has a controller to pan, zoom, and tilt to focus on different aspects of the feed on the televisions inside the suites.
“It’s a personalized camera on the field,” said Sankar Jayaram, president of 3D4U Solutions.
This is the first full-blown implementation of the viewing system. The company had been testing this functionality for the past 2-and-a-half years with the NBA, NCAA football and MLB. It’s also going to be available on mobile phones — an iOS app is out next month, with an Android version coming one month later.
This 3D-4U stuff isn’t just for the fans. A “Watch Yourself” tool helps coaches use the same features to create individual clips of plays to be viewed for later.
And though sports is 3D-4U’s first market entry, this technology can expand way past the football field. On 3D-4U’s projects page, there are concerts, landmarks, red carpet events, award ceremonies, museums, security, reconnaissance and attractions all listed. The technology is like Google StreetView on steroids, but also for live events.
“We also have a different version of technology not on the market yet that allows people to walk around museums and visit places as if they were there,” Jayaram said.
Along with his wife Uma Jayaram and two others, Jayaram founded 3D4U Solutions in 2004. The two are engineering professors at WSU. The company employs fewer than 20 people and has been mostly funded by angel investors.
Technology is quickly finding its way into the live sporting world. We wrote last month about how NFL fans can now access replays from their seats on their mobile phones immediately after a play. It makes you wonder if people at games might fiddle around with new technology so much that they’ll forget live action is happening right in front of them.
Regardless, this is a neat way for fans to control and personalize their viewing experience.