Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Premier League, Sony to give you virtual matchday experience

Arsene Wenger, beta testing new technology. Or so he thinks.

Do you ever wish you could feel like you were at a Premier League match without actually having to pay for an overpriced ticket or sit next to fellow human beings? Well the Premier League is working on making this a (virtual) reality.

After the spectacular failure that was the 39th game plan, which would have had an extra round of Premier League matches played all over the world for the sake of foreign fans, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is now promising a technological compromise along similar lines.

Says Scudamore (via the Guardian):

"There's immersion technology being developed right now where you can sit down with headphones and a screen in front of you, and reproduce the feeling of being in a stadium. You can call in your mates to sit next to you and chat to them. If you turn your head one way you're looking at the left-hand goal and the other way you're looking at the right-hand goal. That's in Beta testing now.

"You'll be able to decide where you want to be: you could be on a Saturday at 3pm, English time, in Hong Kong deciding whether you want to be on the Kop end at Anfield or the Holte End at Aston Villa. There'll be a drop?down menu and you'll be able to choose where you want to be and watch the game. It'll be like an Avatar?type of thing available in your own home. It might sound pie in the sky, but it's not. That virtual reality is already there. To be honest, it's the sort of thing our kids are playing with all the time."

According to the report, Sony is working on "Super Wide" camera angles for this, which will employ multiple cameras to create panoramic view from anywhere in the stadium (including the director's box).

Even though the intent here is to create a more engaging viewing experience for fans from far away places who may never actually make it to see a live Premier League match in England, it sounds like this could also end up being a cheaper option for local fans than paying an arm, a leg and three kidneys for actual match tickets. Yet, Scudamore says the intention is not to "undermine" people attending matches in England.

Obviously, at this point it's hard to say whether this technology will be good for anyone. Will the virtual experience be enjoyable? Will it offer a more reasonable alternative to attending live matches? Will it prompt nervous clubs to lower prices? Who knows. More importantly, I haven't decided whether the impending� absurd doomsday predictions of a future where everyone stays home with their headsets to watch a virtual view of matches in empty stadiums will be funny or not.

Photo: Getty


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