Imagine you’re watching your favorite sports team and there’s a big play; a crushing hit, a sliding catch, or a disputed goal. Now, instead of relying on the broadcast to force-feed you close-ups of the action, you control the view. You pan, tilt, or zoom to get the ideal viewing angle. Or you switch cameras to gain a completely different perspective on the crucial moment.
Fans of the Washington State Cougars football team don’t have to imagine. For them, the future is now. The university has outfitted its Martin Stadium with a special video system that places attendees ‘in’ the game, thanks to strategically placed 180 and 360 degree 3D cameras. From a control station at any of 26 suites, fans enjoy unprecedented control over the broadcasts. The experience is similar to Google Maps Street View, but for video.
The installation at Martin Stadium is the first fully implemented example of the groundbreaking offering from 3D-4U Inc. The company pioneered what it terms “disruptive production and distribution technology that immerses the viewer in live or recorded events in 2D or 3D, in real time.” 3D-4U systems have graced NBA, MLB, and NCAA football venues, but only as temporary, experimental applications.
If Washington State’s investment in the technology proves fruitful, it could create a domino effect, as major sports franchises and leagues race to adopt 3D-4U systems. As these advanced camera and video systems become more common, 3D-4U may make good on its promise to bring the experience to televisions, computers, and mobile devices in the near future.
There are, of course, a few hurdles that must be cleared before 3D-4U is ready for the public. First, as mentioned above, there needs to be a considerable financial investment on the part of stadiums, leagues, and traditional broadcasters. There’s also the logistical dilemma of coordinating between these various entities. Most current cable and internet service providers lack the sheer bandwidth necessary to bring 3D-4U into homes. This may be less of a bottleneck in the future, especially if fiber optic internet becomes the norm, but the telecoms will place a higher priority on improving current services versus new, inherently risky content ventures.
Complicating matters further, 3D-4U Inc. has exclusively licensed its technology to another company, 3D-4U Solutions. While 3D-4U Inc. clearly states its intentions to expand beyond luxury boxes and into your life, 3D-4U Solutions focuses solely on enhancing the experience at live events.