BBC R&D and Red Bee Media recently received the Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2011, and is used in more than 40 countries to enable commentators to graphically demonstrate the finer points of incidents in football matches, writes David Fox.
But almost seven years after it first went on air, where next for the pundits' favourite? TVBEurope talked to Bruce Lynn, General Manager, Red Bee Piero.
"Piero was established for football, but in doing that it solves basic video augmentation issues. We've found the tool can be applied to almost any sport. In fact, we are now looking at non sport applications for the core technology," he said.
In the past year, Piero has been used for basketball, ice hockey, and, at Easter, a beta-version of its volleyball package was used for the first time by Brazil's TV Globo. It is also used for rugby. At the 2010 soccer World Cup more than 85% of all analysis effects used in the world feed came from the Piero system. Users include: various parts of Canal+, ITV, Sky Italia, Digiturk, Viasat Sport, Sat 1, Hong Kong's i-Cable, Al Jazeera, and ESPN Singapore.The system is also being applied to non-broadcast sports coverage. I
n the UK, both Liverpool and Fulham football clubs have bought Piero in the past year to supplement their coaching. "It really engages the players and provides more in-depth analysis." The core technology is "very versatile, so it could work in a web environment or other non-broadcast uses," he added.
Red Bee also hopes to apply Piero to stereographic 3D broadcasting. Piero already functions in a 3D environment, so it only has to output a second angle. Lynn anticipates that it will be available this year as an upgrade.
One problem with 3D is how to treat tied-to-field graphics (the lines placed on the pitch to show the offside line, for example). "This is part of the bread and butter of Piero, but what does tied to field mean in 3D. Where do you place it in a 3D field? How do you put it behind a player, if indeed it should be behind?"