Picture this: A batsmen hits a ball straight to a fielder and gets out. Now imagine the replay: a single replay that shows you how the ball moves from bowler to batsman, bat to fielder, all while changing the point of view of the camera from bowler, to batsman, to fielder.
Sound familiar? We’ve seen this before. Watch the video replay below, an example of such a replay that uses a technology called Viz Libero.
In cricket we have seen it used sporadically in different parts of the world by different broadcast partners. But guess what, the Americans are now in the act and we have to admit, making it look cooler.
Maverick technology innovation
NBA team the Dallas Mavericks aim to bring similar replays to engage their fans regularly. They have signed a partnership with Replay Technologies, a company responsible for the creation of “FreeD” video replay technology.
FreeD stands for ‘free dimensional replays’, and is similar to what we have seen in cricket. But while the cricket replay looks like it uses a very limited number of cameras, FreeD looks like it’s bigger brother. Just watch this video below to see what FreeD can do.
What is FreeD?
FreeD is a 360-degree video system that provides a totally unique viewing experience for fans. As you’ve seen in the video above, the possibility of you missing a play because of the camera angle or some player obscuring your view of a killer pass, will now be gone.
26 FreeD-enabled cameras have been installed in American Airlines Centre (Mavericks home court), becoming the largest freeD system ever installed.
Could change how we all watch our favourite sport
This might be the first time it is used in the NBA, but it isn’t new for the world of sport. This product from Replay Technologies has been used in different instances for different sports, albeit without the name ‘FreeD’ being highlighted due to the different sponsor tie ups each sport may have had.
Here are a couple videos of FreeD being used in other sports.
AMERICAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
So far only a few sports have been introduced to the world of FreeD, but it might not be too long before we see this tech being used during broadcast of our favourite sport.
Great potential for training, coaching and referee training
The entertainment benefits are clear for all to see, but the potential for this tech to be used for personal training, coaching or even for referee training is immense.
In the video below, Jim Furyk’s golf swing analysis.
In the video above you would have seen that Jim Furyk’s swing isn’t conventional, but it still gave him that brilliant set-up for a birdie.
Here’s what I think the technology can be used for:
- Self Improvement – I play a lot of football, with this replay tech I can learn what to look out for when Xabi Alonso plays a long diagonal pass in a game for Bayern Munich. In doing so I learn what he looks for, when he plays that pass, where he plays that pass, and what technique he uses.
- Coaching – A coach can use video footage to teach a young team what player movement is needed for a quick counter attack on a hockey pitch
- Referee training – Referees go through a lot of gruelling training sessions, mental and physical. Instead of watching match replays from a broadcast camera angle, what if referees could watch the match from the perspective of a pro linesman or pro referee? That would change everything!
Technology like this might have started off with fan engagement in mind. But the other possibilities are obvious. FreeD is really cool and if used in different ways, it could become the holy grail of training when combined with data collected from fitness tracking technologies.
I might eventually be able to watch football replays in third person, like I do when I watch my goals replays while playing FIFA on my console. That is the most exciting thing about FreeD for me.