‘Digital fans’ can fill empty stadium seats using AR technology


OZ Sports and RVX – Stadium Augmentation from OZ.com on Vimeo.

As sport slowly begins to restart behind closed doors both in the German Bundesliga and plans for the English Premier League, the lack of atmosphere from an empty stadium could be solved using digital fans.

A technology solution using augmented reality has been developed, which overlays a digital image on top of the empty stadium, enables fans to beam themselves into live broadcasts as well as provide their own audio to help provide the event with more life.

The technology from OZ Sports and RVX Productions, whose most recent work has been seen in various Hollywood blockbuster movies and TV series, are rolling out new technology and services for rights-holders of leagues to make the experience more engaging for the fans.

With the new solution, which also integrates into the wider OZ Connected Stadium, spectators can be dynamically added to live broadcasts with the use of advanced augmented reality technology. Fans can pick their avatar, club’s shirt, have their face painted, and even appear in the stadium in their favorite seat. Fans can also get their voice heard, by participating as either audio-only or with immersive visual participation in the live broadcast.

OZ Arena tech can either completely replace the stadium entirely or augment spectators into existing empty stadiums. The process is added to each camera feed in the workflow opening up support for multi-camera processing. OZ Arena has advanced audio support, where fans can use an app to add live audio to the broadcast. The servers aggregate all fan audio, using low-latency time synchronization and AI algorithms, to manage volume levels, enabling fans to yell as loudly as they like remotely, without overpowering the audio stream. These solutions enable broadcasts to maintain full integrity and sound effects during fan-free games.

“Due to Coronavirus, we will see more games to be played behind closed doors with bans on large-scale public events. It is our job to keep the experience still as exciting as during the non-pandemic world. We do that by learning from esports, bringing new exciting elements into the real-world broadcasts. Our augmentation filters can be customized based on the branding strategy and the creative plan of the league,” said Gudjon Gudjonsson, CEO of OZ Sports.

“The idea is to protect the integrity and experience of the game, by turning the attention away from the empty stadium, and instead replacing it with appealing surroundings to make the game more interesting, and as close to reality as possible. These are times to explore and experiment, to make sports even more appealing and to bring it closer to the latest developments in esports,” continued Gudjonsson.

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James has been Editor of Stadia since 2018 having worked at print and digital magazines and websites around the world covering everything from lifestyle to sport, technology, motoring, and more. He also edits Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

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