The world of professional sports has been imagining for weeks what the return of competition without fans will be like. Clubs have experimented with cardboard stone fans and mannequins, but one start-up catalana is working on a project that allows fans to recreate virtually so that viewers who watch the game on television do not notice the difference. “We are developing the pilot to link the technical issues. The technology uses artificial intelligence algorithms that are currently used in France for video arbitration issues and video game developers that use game engines to render the stadiums. All this is mixed with its own software. The result allows to recreate the environment and the sound of any party “, JosepM explains to ARA. Monti, CEO of Stredium.
“This project was not born of the coronavirus but we were already working on it before, but the current situation has made us accelerate it because it has generated great interest,” acknowledges Monti. The initial idea was inspired by the sports Twitch and was initially intended to improve the television experience of matches with few fans in the stands, such as rugby. “An important part of our proposal is that fans who are watching the game from home can interact with what they are watching on television. If they want an amateur to raise a flag or applaud they can ask for it. The great added value is, therefore, that the fan will not only be able to see the full stadium but will also be able to interact with the sporting event “, he continues. The lag will be minimal.
Alliances to accelerate technology
Entrepreneurs who are leading this project do not want to set deadlines. “Making predictions is difficult, but right now we are testing the technology. If we don’t have it ready for the summer, we hope to be able to release it for next season. The speed at which the project evolves depends, in part, on the alliances we can achieve. There are some very powerful entities that have taken an interest. Mediapro, for example, has cameras with tracking. Having metadata to synchronize the vision of the stadium with each camera would greatly accelerate our project “, acknowledges Monti, who is one of the promoters of the Barcelona Sports Tech Hub23.
The technology that Stredium is developing is suitable for any sport. “The football league is looking for solutions, but the situation is too new,” he said. This system also allows you to customize the ads that fans see. “This is already used today and many times each viewer sees different ads on Utelevisiva from home, depending on which country is watching the game. Our proposal allows us to customize all these options and supports many possibilities for advertisers “, says Monti, who has the feeling that the confinement is serving to accelerate many projects that were underway.
If the Stredium project ends up being implemented, its promoters promise to dedicate the first revenue they manage to fight covid-19.
Mannequins or robots, the alternatives
Clubs around the world are looking for ways to create a less lonely atmosphere for players and add color to the stands. In Belarus, Dinamo Brest placed “more than three dozen” mannequins dressed in different football club shirts. The faces of the chiefs were an amateur photograph. In fact, they were people who had bought a virtual ticket to secure a seat in this premiere of the new model of employment in stadiums. “The first virtual fans!”, Announced with pride the Dinamo Brest, which implemented the initiative in the Cup match against Shakhtar Salihorsk. “More than three dozen fans from around the world gathered in one of the stands of the Brest OSC,” the club announced. The audience was not exclusive to the country, and represented fans from Russia, England, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Uzbekistan.
In parallel with this idea of Dinamo Brest, a club whose honorary president is Diego Armando Maradona, the idea of the Rakuten Monkeys, from the Chinese baseball league in Taiwan, has also attracted attention these days. In order not to leave their players alone on the pitch, they placed a hundred mannequins and a dozen robots in the stands of the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium. The mannequins were given a mask as a measure of symbolic protection.