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This Week In VR Sport: Intel Are Thinking About The Future

And the future of broadcasting sporting events.

The mood might very well be games bsed at the moment with this year’s Electronic Extertainment Expo, better known as E3, around the corner.  But that doesn’t mean there is one sports story relating to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to satiate your interest. So let’s look at what has occurred this week.

Intel Are Thinking About The Future

You may recall the end of last month, when Intel revealed they would be putting dedicated VR zones around The Oval and Edgebaston cricket grounds where cricket fans will be able to don a HTC Vive VR headset and try out their batting skills against a virtual bowler, with a full screen of stats after each virtual stroke to show the users how they did. However that’s their own connection to sport VR in recent times.

Over in California at the Code Conference Intel’s Brian Krzanich, the company’s Chief Executive Officer was questioned on the topic as part of an on-stage interview session.

“We’re both working at the component level – we’ve built and open sourced headsets all built on Intel technology that’s powered by best PC’s, typically, today.” He said, of the company’s work in both AR and VR. “So we design CPUs and graphics to support that.”

Krzanich however pointed to Intel’s newly announced deal with Major League Baseball (MLB). “We think again we’re unique in our ability to the high-grade computing required to bring virtual reality.” Giving an example from the SuperBowl, which itself was broadcast in VR this year. Krzanich spoke of an apparent in-helmet camera view from Quarterback Tom Brady. “They showed the player view from inside his helmet of the downfield and what he saw…. They showed truly what the field looked like. That was us. Intel.”

“We had approximately 50 hi-definition cameras up right around the box level of that stadium. All going back to a massive server complex that then stitches everything together in what we call a voxel – a volumetric pixel. We build billions of that cube real-time.”

That digital representation of the area then allowed Intel to show a viewpoint from a voxel representative to Brady’s eye-level, meaning that people could see exactly the player’s viewpoint. Alternatively it could produce any viewpoint desired by an broadcast producer, or ultimately a full surrounding view for base don the viewer’s choice. Krzanich said Intel was bringing this technology to the MLB but also to football in Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League. With Intel providing a platform agnostic weekly highlight in VR.

Krzanich admitted he believed things would start off slow but the potential was there there, much like as was seen with the Internet, which he gave as an example for which things like sport helped drive adoption and development.

VRFocus will bring you more news on the developments of Intel, and others, in this field as the information becomes available.  The interview session was captured by Recode and you can view it in full below. The discussions mentioned above start around the 19 minutes 30 seconds mark.


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