This Week In VR Sports: Tabletop Football And ESports Deals

Another weekend, another entry of This Week In VR Sport. Every week VRFocus brings you a number of sports and eSports related virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) stories. As the World Cup is soon to finish, why not look to the future of enjoying the sport as the University of Washington presents AR tabletop viewing. Team Gravity announce a sponsor for their VR eSports activities and IKINEMA collaborates with Globo for a unique AR broadcast.

University of Washington Use AR For Tabletop Football Viewing

Tabletop Football

Researches at the University of Washington, in partnership with Facebook and Google have released a new video and research paper that presents a future of what watching football in AR might look like. The system, which is best described as tabletop football, is an end-to-end system that creates a moving 3D reconstruction of a real match which can be enjoyed with a 3D viewer or on an AR compatible device such as HoloLens.

The system was achieved by training a convolutional neural network (CNN) with hours of virtual player data captured from EA’s FIFA videogames, which was able to provide the team behind the system with the data needed to ingest a single monocular YouTube video and output it in the result seen below.

The ten page research paper goes in depth on how the team at the University of Washington, Facebook, and Google were able to bring all the data and technology together for the end result. In theory, the system would allow viewers to watch a match, be it live or recorded, in a hybrid 2D/3D AR experience that could be enjoyed from any viewing angle. The prospect of a tabletop experience similar in vein to the recently announced Motorsport Manager Mobile 3 which is also leveraging AR technology to allow users to turn a surface into a playground.

You can see an example of the system below and read the research paper from the University of Washington here.

Broadband Provider JT Partners With Team Gravity For VR eSports

Team Gravity

VR is rapidly becoming a main player in the eSports scene and one team within the scene is Team Gravity who have recently announced that they have a sponsor in the form of broadband provider JT. The team have been competing in Echo Arena, which is a three-versus-three VR videogame, but have recently recruited a fourth member and are looking to expand into more titles in the future.

Competing on a weekly basis along with attending major eSports events, such as EL One in Hamburg and IEM Katowice in Poland, Team Gravity have seen success having recently finished first in the European Stage Finals of Echo Arena and is aiming for the World Finals as well.

“eGaming and eSports have been around for some time, but the addition of Virtual Reality takes it to a new level and is a growing global phenomenon.” Said Tim McGuinness, member of Team Gravity: “With VR, it is much more akin to playing a sport than a game; you need to train and you need to have the right mentality as you can play for up to three hours non-stop – it is a full body workout requiring great fitness, dexterity and skill.”

With the partnership, Team Gravity will be able to look in expanded the team with more members and attending more events in the future. VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest on the team in the future.

IKINEMA And Globo Collaborate For Unique AR World Cup Broadcast

Lastly this week, IKINEMA and Globo Collaborate for AR World Cup Heroes. This collaboration saw the blend of the real-world with he virtual one as AR characters came to life during a special broadcast on Brazilian TV. The experience was made possible thanks to IKINEMA’s LiveAction animation software which allowed presenters to interact with the live-streamed AR characters and offer a unique viewing experience.

“It’s extremely exciting working with Globo, together we are breaking new ground by bringing in new dimensions to live TV Broadcasting, and what better time to revolutionise than for the World Cup of Russia.” Said Alexandre Pechev, IKINEMA CEO: “The IKINEMA technologies are designed to drive innovative techniques and efficiency for our customers, whilst delivering consistently believable motion – trademarks our brand is recognised the world over.”

The technology could mean that the future of sports broadcasting will see more AR characters used to deliver unique reports for viewers. They could even be used to recreate key moments within a match, adding an extra layer of character and charm to the story as the cheerful AR characters play out the action. You can read more about the special broadcast and collaboration between IKINEMA and Globo here.

That is all for This Week In VR Sport. For more on immersive sport news keep reading VRFocus and remember to check back next week for another This Week In VR Sport.