20 Years of Augmented Reality and 10 Years of International NFL
This round of international NFL games marks the tenth year of American Football making the leap across the pond to the UK. With fans across the world given the opportunity to watch their favourite sport live and in action we couldn’t be happier, myself included. This year we have been lucky to see the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium with the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns gracing Twickenham from this Sunday.
As lucky as some of may be to see a live game a vast amount of fans don’t get that chance and are still gathered around their TV’s at home watching the action unfold every Sunday. These fans however have the upper hand when it comes to the progress of their game.
1st and TenHave you ever noticed that yellow line on the field when watching a game? Or the red? Maybe even the blue? These lines all mean something but they don’t actually exist in the real world. Let’s focus on the yellow for a moment, that line represents the 10th yard, the point which the team with the ball needs to reach. The yellow line is a regular occurrence for all games across all broadcasters and represents one of the subtlest forms of augmented reality that has been used since 1998.
While the stadium crowd waits in suspense on the edge of their seats for an official to tell them if that imaginary line has been crossed the fans at home get to see it unfold in real time. In addition they also get to see the direction of play, how many yards are left to gain and in extreme conditions like heavy snow an entire field of markers can be superimposed over live footage. Although these images don’t really exist on the field they are great tools for newcomers in their understanding of the game.
While some industries and sports are beginning to come to grips with how technology and video can enhance their business and brand the NFL have been busy with collaborations that could benefit their teams, players and even the fans.
1st and ten is just the beginning.
Augmented reality brings computer generation and the real world as close together as possible, think Pokemon Go and you’ll begin to get the idea. This can then be viewed on screens or portable devices and eyewear. Through augmented reality we can be given an enhanced and informative view of the world without detracting from it.
The 1st and ten line is an example of an on-screen view and FOX network have run with this and given us more to enjoy. During a game working with Skycam, Sportvision and Vizrt to manage graphics, depth of field and live footage, they’ve introduced game and player stats into the field of play in a video game like fashion. instead of old school stats blocking out important parts of the on-going game we get to see everything at once without losing out, it’s like Madden brought to life. Other broadcasters like Sky Sports have followed suit in their own way and have chosen to bring this type of imagery into their studios around presenters and pundits.
Several teams are also beginning to use augmented and virtual reality in their training methods. Due to American Football being such a physical game recent health and safety rule changes across the organisation now limits players to the amount of contact practices they can have. While this keeps their players safe physically it potentially reduces their learning capacity and important game elements. Enter augmented and virtual reality headsets to the rescue with preloaded plays and information that can be distributed to those in need. A Quarterback or Receiver can now go through as many plays/reps as they like without the fear of being hit by a teammate and risking injury prior to a game or flouting the leagues ruling. Many players can run the same simulation instead of waiting for their turn and even coaches can get a beneficial player point of view and make game changing decisions. The possibilities continue to grow every day.
As fans of the game we all wish we could play and make that winning touchdown. Whether you want to be Aaron Rodgers or Odell Beckham Jr. the NFL’s use of augmented reality might give you the chance to walk in their shoes in the near future. The ‘NFL Experience’ in Times Square New York gives fans an unprecedented view of the game and stands out form regular forums due to their use of this type of technology. Across the league teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Ravens are using augmented reality apps to reveal hidden content on tickets or even paint their faces ready for game time.
With millions of fans to reach globally the opportunity to bring us closer to the game through augmented reality is so close we can taste it. Microsoft already has big ideas for the future of fan interaction…