Posted by: shoji | September 18, 2007

POV: spectating in the future

I watched part of the Redskins/Eagles football game last night.

Even for non-sports fans, it’s incredible how the TV (particularly sports) viewing experience has improved. First is the HD experience– I recall reading that sports programming on HD even helps sell HDTVs to non-sports fans.

But my living room doesn’t support the HD experience. So, what innovations am I talking about?

There are now dozens of cameras around the field (just as Bill Belichick), and they offer many different views of the action. Moreover, some cameras can be controlled to move along the field as plays progress. If you’ve ever played a sports video game, these moving-camera shots provide a familiar viewing experience.

What’s in the future of sports broadcasting?

I’m certain that there will be more cameras on the field and positioned throughout the stadium. (The immutable law of “the more/the better”.) The real innovation to-be made is image reconstruction to permit viewing from any user-determined point-of-view (POV). I can see how a “Hawk Eye-like” image-processing system could permit three-dimensional reconstruction available on-demand.

Here, the key innovation is “user determined”: perhaps you prefer the down-on-the-field perspective, but I prefer the nose-bleed panorama. No longer would viewers be left to the whims/judgment of the television director.

This on-demand/user-determined POV system could fit well with the convergence of the television/computer experience.

As a footnote to “more cameras on the field and throughout the stadium”, I imagine an improved helmet cam. Most people are familiar with this technology already; helmet cams have been around for many years. However, helmet cams have two significant limitations:  the video quality is fairly low (but getting much better), and, the video image is unstable. Fixing the stability of the video is key to making the helmet cam part of the usual sports broadcasting repertoire as anyone who has watched the Blair Witch Project can attest.



  1. […] 3: spectating in the future I blogged earlier about the future of watching sports. The gist of it is the user-determined point-of-view– imagine watching football or basketball […]

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