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The Future of Sports Visualization

Sports graphics can create many opportunities for media companies to attract viewers and develop content. Using Ericsson knowledge and experience in that area, we decided to look into the future and investigate how sports data visualization can evolve and provide more immersive experience.

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Ericsson is currently a leader in sports data visualization, with its product PIERO delivering this experience through Augmented Reality or graphical overlays for many different sports. PIERO is currently used for live sports productions supporting pundits in building better stories live on air.

In the future, we imagined taking the sports content out of the TV and into our living rooms, specifically onto our coffee table. The idea for this was simple, sports is played on a 3-dimensional plane, while our television is inherently 2-dimensionals. If we were to project this same 3 dimensions on the table in the form of a hologram, it could allow for a much better user experience.

The simple coffee table could be the future of media devices

The simple coffee table could be the future of media devices

We used a Microsoft HoloLens to build this prototype. Therefore, all images shown here are taken from the first-person view through the device. In other words, these are what you would see if you are wearing the HoloLens. In fact, the specific game seen here is our favorite from Euro 2016: England vs Iceland.

All shots made by the home team in blue. i.e. Iceland

All shots made by the home team in blue. i.e. Iceland

For this project, we built the 3D models seen in these images, including the stadium, scoreboard, players (represented by jerseys), the goalposts, and of course the trajectory of the balls. The HoloLens app gets the data from a sports data provider- in this case Opta. As PIERO is integrated with Opta, we used that interface to send relevant data when triggered by an operator. Some of the data that can be sent includes which player took a shot, and if it the shot was off target, on target but saved, or a goal. These data could be sent individually or all at once.

All off target shots made by the away team in red, i.e. England

All off target shots made by the away team in red, i.e. England

Of course you will need a pair of Augmented Reality lenses for this to work, but imagine then using your simple coffee table as a media device. Imagine walking around the field to see what's going on, rather than relying on the camera to move to any particular location. Or better yet, imagine being able to do both!

An up-close view of all shots by Iceland.

An up-close view of all shots by Iceland.

We showed off this demo during the IBC conference, held in Amsterdam in September as showing how to take augmented reality experience from the sports studio to your home. It generated some buzz and a number of people were interested in trying it out. One thing we noticed was that a number of people wanted to interact with the player icons. While this particular version did not allow for that, we did have another demo that did. Here, selecting the player brought up the clip of the event. For example, a clip of the goal would be shown.

And we bring up a relevant clip of the event

And we bring up a relevant clip of the event

As we see it, media devices of the future could be anything and anywhere. They can be 2-dimensional or 3. They can be consumed in a passive manner as it is done now, or they can be interacted with. This little demo gave just a glimpse of what could be.

To wrap up with credit where it's due. A number of people were involved with realizing this demo. From Silicon Valley, our summer intern Hao Wang, innovation engineer Thao Nguyen, and research engineer Per-Erik Brodin. Special congrats to the PIERO team in London, in particular: Lino Rodriguez, Vincent Noyer and Sean Hosking for their market insight and product integration.

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