The NBA goes high-tech
Technology has always played a key role in how sports organizations attract and entertain their audiences. Building on this relationship between technology and sports, the National Basketball Association (NBA) is offering support to new, emerging technologies, and giving them a platform to experiment and demonstrate their products. The NBA All-Star Weekend this year gave us a glimpse into what maybe the future of sports.
The NBA All-Star Weekend is an annual festival in February. It consists of a variety of basketball-related events, all of which culminate into the NBA All-Star Game which pits star players from the league's Eastern Conference against star players from the Western Conference.
The NBA All-Star Weekend was held at the Smoothie King Centre in New Orleans. In the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, 21-year old Orlando Magic player Aaron Gordon, the defending champion, performed a slick dunk with a high-flying drone-assisted shot. The feat required intimate communication between man and machine, and while the dunk was Gordon's skill, the drone came from Intel's Sports division.
For basketball fans around the globe watching the event from home, Intel had another surprise - the 360 Replay Technology. Combining footage from more than 30 5K cameras in 360 Replay-enabled venues, the technology captures whatever is happening on the field and renders it into a 3D model which allows viewers an immersive replay of any moment of a game from any angle.
Intel's 360 Replay Technology is complemented by Voke VR, a VR live-streaming company which Intel recently purchased. While Voke VR is still working to get content from sports organization on their platform, another company called NextVR already has exclusive live-streaming rights from NBA. NextVR has scaled up to a point where it can live-stream big events like the NBA All-Star Game through VR headsets.