(SportsTechie) Imagine watching LeBron James dunk up close via a 90-inch television that’s hanging 10 feet from your seat on the couch. Now imagine if you could watch seven other NBA games on big screens at the same time without having to cover your wall with flat screens and controlled all via your head motion!
ThirdEye Gen’s X1a AR Smart Glasses seek to change the way people consume sports is set to be unveiled next month at the Consumer Electronics Show.
During a sneak peek at the company’s headquarters in earlier this month, ThirdEye’s Nick Cherukuri showed SportTechie how the X1a Smart Glasses, which run on Android, might be adapted for the sports industry in a way that could enhance the fan experience.
Something that Cherukuri says separates ThirdEye’s glasses from others is the wide 40-degree diagonal field of view, which he said is the equivalent to watching a 90-inch high-definition screen from a distance of ten feet. That’s significantly wider than, say, Google Glass, which had a 10-degree field of view and wasn’t designed for the long-term consumption of augmented reality content. ThirdEye X1a’s optical technology allows for very high brightness thus allowing for viewing content if vastly different lighting situations- something that is a major drawback for many other smart glasses.
The headset is currently set up to support multiple games in play simultaneously. A glance up, down, left or right, for example, might reveal seven additional big screens alongside the primary one in the user’s direct field of view. The experience has capacity for as many as 16 screens if the user is willing to rotate the body 360 degrees. The multiple screens might also be used to supplement the primary game with interactive statistics, which is something that leagues, such as the NFL, and companies from Sportradar to Twitch, have been experimenting with to enhance the viewing experience.
“We’re taking everything on your phone and bringing it up to your face,” said Cherukuri. “When you wear this you get a digital screen in front of you, and just by rotating your head you get eight matches.”
Games can be accessed on X1a through any website url (think NFL RedZone) or Facebook live stream via a Wi-Fi connection, as well as any app that runs on Android (think Amazon Prime). ThirdEye also has a third-party developer’s kit for native apps that can be built specifically for the X1a.
Powering the headset is a replaceable battery that can last for an NFL game (with a battery life of five to eight hours depending on use?—?five if there’s constant video use). Since it’s replaceable and rechargeable, users can swap out new batteries without having to take the headset out of play.
So far, most of ThirdEye’s sports partnerships have been with commercial companies and have been early stage or experimental in nature.
But Cherukuri suspects that the list of sports clients and range of use cases for the glasses will expand once ThirdEye officially unveils the headset at CES and begins shipments in February and March. Perhaps, for example, a league or team might offer glasses to VIPs at events so they receive interactive player statistics while watching live, or produce content that immerses fans through the first-person perspectives of NFL quarterbacks via a helmet-based camera, F1 drivers and Olympic downhill skiers.
Another idea is using the X1a to provide visual coaching or tutoring to athletes on the road, which would take advantage of its point-of-view software that lets one person stream live and annotated point-of-view video with audio to another user.
The unique benefits of AR Smart Glasses definitely give it a sharp advantage over watching content on your phone, tablet or computer & is a big reason why sports & entertainment companies are beginning to gravitate towards here.