Barcelona - Camera technology and innovation may soon transform the way viewers watch sport on television.
The latest event to adopt sport technology is the Spanish La Liga, which sees 20 teams compete in one of the most viewed soccer leagues in the world.
La Liga, widely watched in South Africa, showed off its current and latest tech during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, at the Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol Stadium, home to Espanyol, one of the city's oldest clubs.
This year La Liga made further strides to enhancing viewer technology through a Laser Wall by computer company Intel. This allows for a more accurate viewing of the offside line, creating an augmented reality (AR) view when a player erroneously crosses their field of play.
Roger Brosel, head of content and programming at La Ligam said that not only does the Laser Wall accurately determine an offside by a player, but is able to prove this to the viewer.
“The Laser Wall is tracked through camera and follows the ball in play and is able to confirm if a referee calls out a player for an offside,” Brosel said.
But the Laser Wall is only the latest technology to be implemented in the Spanish football league, to enhance viewer experience ad assist in the accuracy of matches.
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La Liga once again partnered with Intel to showcase its True View system, which has been adopted from the US National Football League, National Basketball Association and Super Bowl tournaments - and could see further adoption by other leagues, teams and sports around the world.
The True View system allows broadcasting directors to see a three-dimensional view of replays using close to 40 cameras in a stadium to view how goals are scored, and the angles a player makes use of to score them.
Brosel added that for a while it was a pipe dream that viewers would be to see exactly what players see when taking a shot but through True View, "being the player" is now a reality to appreciate when a player scores a goal.
The technology was first implemented by La Liga during the previous season, with the slightly older Sky Cam complementing the technology with a bird’s eye view of a match being played.
“Previously we saw television broadcasters trying to mimic the view video gamers see during a game, but now we see video game developers trying to create content the way it is seen on televised matches because of the technology that is now being implemented,” Brosel said.
La Liga is also currently making use of a technology called MediaCoach by technology company Media Pro. This determines the statistics of players, including their speed and motion range on a field, through cameras within the stadium.
The future of sport viewing tech
Brosel said that as satellites are launched and more people have access to the internet, viewing La Liga matches in High-dynamic-range (HDR) imaging in 4K Ultra-High-Definition will soon become a reality for bigger audiences.
La Liga is currently played at four Spanish stadiums where the new technologies have been implemented, with five more expected by the end of 2019.
The Spanish football league is also currently experimenting with Virtual Reality (VR) technology to allow viewers to watch match highlights and possibly full matches on their smartphones, through a VR headset.
*Kyle Venktess is attending the Mobile World Congress by invitation from Huawei Technologies South Africa.
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