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EE, BT Sport “re-imagine” sports viewing with help from 5G

Companies unveil new prototypes for use on rugby, boxing, MotoGP, the arts, and football

BT Sport is working with EE on new ways for viewers to watch sports and performing arts that employ 5G technology and augmented reality.

The two companies have used BT Media and Broadcast’s OB service to showcase a number of prototypes across a range of sports.

For rugby, BT Sport is using 5G to give fans at the match new insight and companion experiences with real-time mixed reality overlays on smartphones, tablets and AR headsets.

Features include game data overlaid onto players, ball trajectories, gain-line visuals, kick distances, possession data and alternative camera viewpoints. Additional features under consideration include alternative partisan commentaries, localised stadium advertising and route-finding info to the stadium.

The companies have developed what they describe as “a first of its kind immersive viewing experience” for boxing, providing real-time volumetric video to create so-called ‘holographic boxers’ who are synchronised with the live TV broadcast.

The volumetric video can placed for example on a viewer’s coffee table while they watch the live fight on their TV. Replays can be watched in slow-motion from any angle during breaks, together with fight data. Additionally, a Hype Mode feature provides an entertaining broadcast experience with on-screen descriptions for key moments and punch tracers lined with graphics such as blazes of fire.

A prototype for MotoGP includes an immersive race presentation through a virtual multi-screen viewing suite offering 17 different video panels.

In addition, viewers can access an at-scale circuit map showing the position of riders throughout the race, together with a Parc Ferme area offering full-size 3D renderings of team motorbikes with spatial audio. Content viewable on the 17 live video panels includes: race helicopter view, bike-cams on up to seven different bikes, replays, timing panel showing individual racer timings, and, interactive leader board showing the position of riders in the race.

The two companies are also using 5G and AR to enhance the way viewers watch live and recorded performances of dance, music and theatre. The experience showcases live-streamed AR dance classes, led by a remote dance artist who is presented as a volumetric hologram mixed into the real-world using AR glasses.

BT Sport has also added new features to its existing 360-degree service on the BT Sport. It works alongside spatial audio and dynamic graphics to provide 8K 360-degree multi camera viewpoints, screens showing the live TV match feed, team sheets and match info, embedded match information graphics showing teams score, clock, and an interactive timeline that enables users to directly jump to key events within the match. In addition, it provides spatial audio specific to the camera location and orientation of the user.

Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport, said: “EE and BT are again demonstrating the powerful creative and operational benefits that 5G technology can bring to sports and broadcast. These new experiences, which capitalise on the breadth of broadcast and mobile expertise across BT and EE, re-affirm the important role that 5G will play in re-imagining how sport is watched both at stadia and via television.”