Former NBA player Chris Webber tries out the Intel TrueVR experience. (Credit: Intel Corporation)
At the beginning of this year, Intel Sports upgraded the cameras it had been using to capture virtual reality content. At the Intel Global Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., on Tuesday, Altia Systems, the company behind those new cameras, officially unveiled both its new hardware and its link up with True VR.
True VR, Intel’s VR system, has already been used to capture content from MLB, the NBA, the Olympics, and several other major sports. Camera pods with 12 cameras each, arrayed as six pairs in a semi circle, were installed around sports venues. Once the resulting feeds were stitched together on a computer, the experience for fans watching a stream on a VR headset was as if they were standing in that location, looking out at the action. Last season, five NFL games featured VR highlights and commentary, giving fans the feeling of standing on the sidelines during the action.
With Altia Systems’ PanaCast Live, Intel now needs only six cameras in each pod. Each camera captures 13-megapixel images at 60 frames-per-second, and the video stitching is completely onboard the camera pod itself. This is likely to make the pods easier to use and install, and thus increase the number of events where True VR is used.
“We are committed to delivering a compelling VR experience, bringing fans closer to the action,” said Intel Sports Group’s CTO, Sankar Jayaram, in a statement about the partnership. “The new PanaCast Live system from Altia Systems provides us with the ability to provide unprecedented angles to watch and engage with the major sports events we broadcast.”
Here’s what else you need to know:
– The system is built for both indoor and outdoor use, and content can either be streamed live, or recorded for on-demand sharing later.
– Live streams can be viewed using either Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream headsets running the Intel True VR app.
The combination of VR and live sports is still in its infancy, but the NFL has been working with Intel to explore that space. At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, William Deng, director, media strategy and business development at the NFL explained why he sees potential in VR. “I put on the headset, and all of a sudden I was standing in the corner of the end zone. A receiver caught a touchdown pass, ran towards me, and I physically felt the need to move out of the way,” Deng said. “That was the moment that made me realize that this was something different.”
As well as True VR, Intel has also been developing and using another technology it recently rebranded from freeD to True View. This system uses 38 5K-resolution cameras installed high up in a ring around a stadium. Video captured by each camera can be processed together to create a full 3D model on a computer, and, with that, Intel can recreate the view from any point on the field, whether or not there was a physical camera there.