Did he score or not? Was she in or out of bounds?
Despite multiple cameras covering major events, we still miss a lot of stuff when watching sports. We’re still not sure if the player was down before he fumbled. We missed the awesome pass, because the big guy was blocking our view of it.
Intel is helping to change our view of sports with the introduction of two new technologies: Curie and freeD.
If you were watching Super Bowl 50 earlier this month, then you’ve seen freeD in action. When the offense scored a touchdown (all two of them!) CBS showed a 360-degree shot of the play, letting you see the TD from virtually any angle.
FreeD will also be on display during Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. TNT, owned by CNNMoney parent company Turner, will place 28 cameras around the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Instead of a capturing a two-dimensional pixel, the cameras send information back to Intel’s data center, which will transform the captured images into a 3-D “voxel.” That will allow TNT to show a slam dunk from any vantage point in the arena.
Curie, a separate Intel technology, allows broadcasters to get real-time data about the athletes or on-field play. Curie captures the information by monitoring chips on athletes, balls, bats, end zones, snow boards, bicycles … you name it.
All of that is collected by Intel’s data centers and can be transmitted to broadcasters instantly. It will debut at this year’s X-Games on ESPN, letting viewers see live data about athletes’ performances.
It allows sports fans to gain access to never-before-seen information, including a snowboarder’s height, the G-forces a high-jumper experiences, or the speed a ball is traveling. One day, it could even clock bat speed or baseball rotation.
“The silicon itself can survive inside a bat,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in an interview. “We’re just trying to build a battery that can survive the 100-or-so G-forces on a bat when it comes in contact with a baseball.”
Soon, even that might change. Krzanich said that Intel is working on technology that would allow Curie chips to be powered by the energy a ball produces when it bounces or rotates — no batteries included, or necessary.
The implications of Curie go beyond just data for fans. Krzanich believes that athletes could use the information to train.
“You can shoot 100 free throws, and we can tell you exactly what’s going on,” he said. “Your elbow may be too far out and your head might be turned to the left.”
Curie may never replace golf swing coaches, for example, but it might help people who can’t afford swing coaches. One day, a golf club with Curie inside it could upload data to the cloud, and a golfer could get advice about how to improve her swing.
Intel’s chip technology could also assist referees. Someday soon, knowing who’s foot the ball went off or whether the ball ever entered the net may no longer be subjective decisions.