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Watch live sports from on the field with Japan's 3D VR tech
January 10, 2011 | Chris Payatagool
By Evan Ackerman via Dvice
For their 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, Japan promised us that they'd have 3D fields that we could watch live games on while flying around in virtual reality. Japan didn't get the 2022 World Cup, but they're making the technology a reality anyway, and here's what it's going to look like.
Before we get to the video demo, let me explain how the system works. In its final implementation, 30 or 40 4k-resolution HD cameras (that's four times the resolution of 1080p) will be positioned around a soccer field and carefully calibrated. When a game starts, the cameras will all feed their imagery back to a central computer, which synthesizes all the video into a photorealistic 3D scene. Users can then fly around that virtual environment using a gamepad or cell phone as if they were actually on the field, live, all in high definition 3D. You can virtually stand in one of the goals, virtually follow the ball, or even virtually lock yourself into the perspective of any player.
At this point, the guys behind this tech, Japan's KDDI R&D Labs, don't have a full-field HD setup ready to go quite yet. The [1:42 minute] demo video shows two clips: in the first clip, you get an idea of what's possible using this technology on a smaller scale, while the second clip shows how a full field game might look, except it's only using four cameras instead of 40. This isn't a video game; these are 3D images of real people, rendered live.
It's pretty easy to imagine how this is going to look when they get a full 40 4k HD cameras all working together at once, and KDDI is putting it on the fast track. They hope to have a full-scale trial up and running within the next six months, and they see a full commercial product ready to go in two or three years.
It's interesting to think about how all of the most recent major innovations in television technology have started off in sports before making it into our homes. I'm talking about first HD, and now 3D: it's the sports broadcasters that are really embracing that stuff and creating the market that makes mass production possible and new tech affordable. This 3D virtual sports experience could very well be the next step, and other media will likely follow suit. Who knows, maybe all of the regular TV shows we watch five or ten years or now will take place in free viewpoint 3D virtual reality, letting you experience content in all kinds of new ways.
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