Camera Tracking, Sports Data Overlays and Augmented TV

A few weeks ago I came across a post reviewing in-screen sports graphics which prompted me to tweet something along this lines of “could TV sports be the immediate future of augmented reality?”

Watching some of the Olympics sailing coverage today, I noticed they were using overlays to both identify boats as well as using dotted lines to show the recent paths taken by the boats of interest. I guessed these were generated using the Piero system originally developed by BBC R&D at Kingswood Warren (h/t @matlock) but then commercialised by Red Bee Media, but sailing doesn’t appear on the list of currently showcased Piero sports solutions. However, a recent blog post suggests that Piero would be deployed across the range of Olympics sports, so maybe RedBeeMedia is the “official” supply of augmented TV/data overlays for the Olympiad and was being used to generate the sailing overlays?

Whatever the case, it sent me off on a quick search to see whether or not there were any rival systems that made a point of enhancing sailing coverage. An obvious first guess was Hawk-Eye, but they see to be more into ball-tracking (I think they’re also owned by Sony now…?) I then stumbled on a couple of other providers of in-screen graphics: SportVision, whose LiveLine product seems to cover sailing, as this Americas Cup video shows:

SportVision also do motorsport;-)

…and Animation Research Ltd‘s Virtual Eye… which, like hawk-Eye, also does ball tracking:

VirtualEye also seems to support a lot of animated replays, as for example in this F1 example:

Not surprisingly virtual ad delivery seems to be something else a lot of these companies are keen on…so I wonder: has Google bought-up anyone working in this domain yet?

PS Related: BBC White Paper WHP220 by Graham Thomas Sports TV Applications of Computer Vision.

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