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BT and EE Unveil New Sports and Arts Experiences Using 5G and XR

EE and BT Sport are unveiling pioneering uses of 5G which re-imagine the experience of watching and performing sports, dance, music and theatre through virtual, augmented and mixed reality applications.

Using everyday devices such as smartphones, tablets and TVs, as well as the latest augmented reality (AR) headsets, the new prototypes enable users to take control and engage in an event from any angle of their choosing.

For example, rugby fans can take the experience of being at a match or event to previously unmatched levels with real-time, data-rich AR insights such as ball trajectories and kick distances. Boxing fans can bring fight nights into their own living room with highly immersive holographic videos which puts them up close to the boxers as they fight.  Meanwhile, dancers, musicians and other artists can remotely demonstrate, teach and engage with students and fans using EE’s 5G network to provide real-time interactive experiences.

The prototypes are the first outputs from an EE and BT Sport-led project, 5G EdgeXR, which demonstrates how the potential of EE’s 5G network, paired with cloud graphics processing units, can enable consumers to view events in a range of new, highly immersive ways. 5G Edge-XR is supported by The Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), The Grid Factory, Condense Reality, DanceEast, Salsa Sound and The University of Bristol. Other high-end XR services being explored by the project address the needs of industries as diverse as construction, health and retail.

Lisa Perkins, Research Realisation Director, BT, said: “Our work at Adastral Park alongside world-class innovators including BT Sport and our 5G Edge-XR partners demonstrates how EE’s 5G network can support services that deliver uncompromised audio and visuals. We’re excited to be unveiling experiences that could transform sports, culture, and the arts as well as demonstrating the benefits 5G can bring to people and businesses.”

Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport, said: “EE and BT are again demonstrating the powerful creative and operational benefits that 5G technology can bring to sports and broadcast. These new experiences, which capitalise on the breadth of broadcast and mobile expertise across BT and EE, re-affirm the important role that 5G will play in re-imagining how sport is watched both at stadia and via television.”

At the home of Saracens rugby in London, EE and BT unveiled the following new experiences, aspects of which are being further developed by BT Sport for launch in the future.  The demonstrations were supported by BT Media & Broadcast’s TV OB service.

Rugby: Providing fans who are at the game with never-before-seen match insight and companion experiences, the application provides real-time mixed reality overlays on smartphones, tablets and AR headsets. Features include game data overlaid onto players, ball trajectories, gain-line visuals, kick distances, possession data and alternative camera viewpoints. Additional features under consideration include alternative partisan commentaries, localised stadium advertising and route-finding info to the stadium.

Boxing: A first-of-its-kind immersive sports-viewing experience, bringing live fights from the ring into the front room. It provides a real-time volumetric video to create so-called ‘holographic boxers’ who are synchronised with the live TV broadcast. The volumetric video can placed for example on a viewer’s coffee table while they watch the live fight on their TV. Replays can be watched in slow-motion from any angle during breaks, together with fight data. Additionally, a Hype Mode feature provides an entertaining broadcast experience with fun, action-themed on-screen descriptions for key moments and punch tracers lined with graphics such as blazes of fire.

MotoGP: The ultimate augmented reality motorsport fan experience. The prototype provides an immersive race presentation through a virtual multi-screen viewing suite offering 17 different video panels. In addition, viewers can access an at-scale circuit map showing the position of riders throughout the race, together with a Parc Ferme area offering full-size 3D renderings of team motorbikes with spatial audio. Content viewable on the 17 live video panels includes: race helicopter view, bike-cams on up to seven different bikes, replays, timing panel showing individual racer timings, and, interactive leader board showing the position of riders in the race.

Dance / Music / Theatre: experience how 5G and AR can be used to transform the way we watch live and recorded performances of dance, music and theatre. The experience showcases live-streamed AR dance classes, led by a remote dance artist who is presented as a volumetric hologram mixed into the real-world using AR glasses.

Football: Offers a fully immersive ‘like being there’ experience for football fans. It provides an immersive experience utilising the BT Sport App’s existing 360-degree service combined with spatial audio and dynamic graphics to provide 8K 360-degree multi camera viewpoints, screens showing the live TV match feed, team sheets and match info, embedded match information graphics showing teams score, clock, and an interactive timeline that enables users to directly jump to key events within the match. In addition, it provides spatial audio specific to the camera location and orientation of the user.

The new outputs are the latest industry-first collaboration around the use of world-class 5G networks between EE, BT Sport, BT Applied Research and BT Media & Broadcast:

  • In October 2020, EE teamed up with BT Sport to launched Matchday Experience on the BT Sport App, offering fans the most immersive sports viewing experience anywhere in the UK, including Watch Together – the only service in the UK allowing fans to watch, see and chat with three other friends, alongside any BT Sport broadcast, thanks to a split-screen interface.
  • In 2019, BT Sport collaborated with BT’s Media & Broadcast arm to broadcast the world’s first live 8K test broadcast, into the IBC exhibition in Amsterdam.
  • In 2018 BT Sport and EE carried out the world’s first live broadcast over 5G using remote production, delivering a two-way transmission from Wembley Stadium to London’s ExCeL exhibition centre.

[Editor’s note: This is a lightly edited press release.]

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