Love going to an All Blacks game but still feeling like you need to record it and watch a replay to get all the commentary and visual analysis afterwards?   Enjoy learning sports statistics but miss it at a live game?  Well don’t give up your season tickets to the Warriors yet – a team of Otago University researchers are part of a new project that could change the way we experience sports events forever.

With a $1 million grant from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund, Dr Stefanie Zollmann and other researchers aim to use new technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) to show on-site spectators live information about sports games (think details like scoring, penalties, player information, team stats) – possibly even tailored to where sports fans are sitting in a stadium.   Hard to comprehend?  Consider the possibility of bringing together the interactive experience of AR games (like Pokemon Go etc.) with a live sports match.

And it seems like the USA’s Major League Baseball's mobile app - At Bat – is already trialling a new AR feature, where fans can point their iPhone toward the playing field and see statistics such as how far a ball was hit or how fast a pitch was, all live while play is in progress.  The AR capabilities were apparently demonstrated on iPad Pros during a recent baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies where “by clicking on a player's augmented image, you can get his data from Statcast. The Statcast tool uses HD cameras, a Doppler radar and machine learning to track every move on the field.  Statcast gives teams, broadcasters and fans an array of metrics and trivia” (see https://www.cnet.com/news/baseball-apple-pitches-augmented-reality-to-catch-fans-mlb-apple/ ).

Some of us will be able to remember when the first graphics animation of a sporting event was broadcast live on television, the 1992 America’s Cup, where New Zealand’s Virtual Eye’s software 'Winged Keel' displayed the boating racing via 3D graphics, helping the viewing public comprehend what was happening out on the water. But the days where you sat at a sports event near someone with a transmitter radio or guessed how many successful conversions a kicker had made may nearly be over. 

We wonder which stadiums will be the first adopters of these possible new technologies and how much information we will have to share in order to receive all this live data about how far a kick went or how fast a run-away try scorer ran.  Time to renew those season tickets.