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Intel Businesses Technology

Intel's Big Bet On Baseball (axios.com) 57

Ina Fried, reporting for Axios: Intel has been traveling the country this year, broadcasting one major league game a week in virtual reality. On Tuesday, the company's crew was close to home as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Cleveland Indians 2-1 in extra innings. How it works: The games are free to watch, but require the person to have a Samsung phone and Gear VR headset. To broadcast a game in VR, Intel has camera rigs on the first and third base side, as well as the traditional "deep home" shot. It also aims to have an additional camera or two in a spot unique to each stadium. In Arizona, for example, it has one near the stadium's swimming pool. Each camera setup has six pairs of cameras to capture high-definition footage in 180 degrees. In the parking lot, meanwhile, separate teams work in two adjoining vans. One group works on the sound and stitches the images together, while a second van houses a more traditional broadcast setup, including play-by-play announcer J.B. Long. Tweaking the product: Still new at this, Intel is constantly adding new tricks to its arsenal. Last night's game, for example, was the first time the company added real-time VR graphics to the mix, showing baseball cards with stats above the players. Intel CEO has said he wants VR sports to be a billion dollar business for the company.
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Intel's Big Bet On Baseball

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @12:05PM (#54839873)
    You're wasting your time in India unless it's 3D cricket. Never seen an Indian in the parking lot with a baseball bat, and the "out of the park" highlight clips most likely shown in my neck of the woods aren't from US footage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You can bring VR to baseball and it will still be boring. Not as boring as cricket mind-you, but still boring.

      • Twenty-Twenty Cricket is far from boring. Baseball is definietly snooze fest material.
        I'd like them to try to do VR Rugby Union.... People would see what really goes on in a Scrum (and not that poncy IT version)

  • by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @12:08PM (#54839895)
    The title is way off. This doesn't have anything to do with Intel betting on baseball, unless they are buying a team or something we don't know about. They're betting on VR, and refining their approach, and baseball is an easy, cheap, repeatable way to do that, and provides a "cool" experience in surround. They can move their setup within minutes to any other venue I'm sure.
    • >> doesn't have anything to do with Intel betting on baseball...refining their approach, and baseball is a...cheap...way to do that

      However, it does have to do with Intel betting that legacy, large-stadium-based sports (you know, stuff ESPN rose and fell on) will still be a thing in 10-20 years. For the rest of us who watch more eSports than 3-hour meatspace snoozefests the action is going to be more on how video games can be made more interesting for a wider viewing public (i.e., choosing our viewin
      • Sports (including stadium-style) have been around, more or less, since the dawn of civilization. They are going nowhere.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        ESPN hardly 'rose and fell' on stadium based sports. They rose and fell on cable subscription deals, which isn't remotely the same thing.

    • Baseball is a great choice for VR. I can't wait to see the spit and pumpkin seeds flying out of the players' mouths. I'm also looking forward to see the crotch scratching and ass slapping from new and unique viewing angles. Thanks, Intel!!
    • The title makes it sound like Intel is betting the family jewels on VR. However, "Intel CEO has said he wants VR sports to be a billion dollar business for the company" means he doesn't see it growing to even 2% of revenue.
  • by DatbeDank ( 4580343 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @12:15PM (#54839953)

    Much like 3D glasses, 360 VR is a silly gimmick that appeals to a very small hardcore group of early adopters.

    360 VR does not have a future outside of a small niche. To the average non-video game player/early tech adopter, the headsets are big, bulky, and dorky (sis said it not me).

    Have you seen your average TV baseball demographic? Do you really think they're going to spend money on something like this? This is a silly fad that will be replaced with the next silly entertainment gimmick designed to encourage consumers to keep buying new equipment every 1 to 2 years.

    The only way this would be successful is if Intel gave away its 360 VR headsets for free to thousands of fans in those cities.

    The sooner 360VR dies for Immersive VR, the better.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @12:18PM (#54839971) Homepage Journal
    Who in the hell would pay to watch other people play sports?
  • Give a VR device to the home plate umpire so he can see if the pitch was in the strike zone. It won't slow the game down and will make it more fair.

    With 200+ pitches a game the home plate ump is bound to get some calls wrong or is just having a bad day. The umps get fatigued, their view gets blocked by the catcher, catcher framing the pitch making it look like a strike and the catcher moves the mit back into the strike zone in such a way that the ump thinks it was a strike.

    Baseball should have a goal to

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are already systems to track pitches and determine if they are balls or strikes. Questec has been used to grade umpire performance in balls and strikes. Pitchfx, which is also used to track the performance of pitchers, has been used to call balls and strikes in minor league games in place of the home plate umpire. You don't need VR when it's possible to completely automate that function of the umpires altogether. It wouldn't replace umpires, just free them up to focus on calling other aspects of t

      • by schwit1 ( 797399 )
        The ump should have a real-time display in his mask showing the pitches in proximity to the strike zone.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I'm in favor of this, even if it's not implemented in precisely that way. I wouldn't want augmented reality in the umpire's mask to be a distraction from making another call like a balk or catcher interference. In the test, it wasn't implemented that way. Someone else (in the test, former major leaguer Eric Byrnes) was responsible for operating the equipment and making the calls, but it actually went well. You can read about it at https://www.wired.com/2015/07/baseball-game-no-umpire/ [wired.com]. I believe it wou

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Bad calls are a part of baseball. Instant replay is the devil.

  • I am curious why Intel would even be the entity to do this? Especially given that they are delivering the "product" on a Samsung platform which doesn't even have Intel Inside(TM).
    • by enjar ( 249223 )
      I'm betting the "stitching of the images" and "sound" part happens on Intel. They could be working on chips/algorithms that do that live/quickly. As a parallel example, Silicon Graphics (far diminished from what it used to be) was/is a big part of painting the first down line and other graphics "on field" for NFL games. http://insightreplay.com/the-s... [insightreplay.com] . I'd actually consider a VR rig if they started putting NFL games out in this format.
  • I have no place in that world. I would MUCH rather go to a game, concert, or event. Why are tech companies trying to keep me in my house? We need MORE human interaction, not less.
    • by enjar ( 249223 )
      I'm a NFL fan. I can carve out three hours to plop down on the couch and watch my team in a week. During that three hours, I can do other things like fold laundry, cook a meal, keep an eye on my kids. To attend a game requires me spending a non-trivial amount of money for tickets, an hour or two each way to get to the stadium and return, plus spending other non-trivial amounts on parking and food at the stadium. Not to mention the fact I live in a northern city where the weather can suck. If I wanted to tak
      • This is more incumbent on us the consumers and FOMO. Promoters and marketers have done an amazing job at jacking up prices and making it sound like it'll be the only opportunity to see whatever. The first time I had ever heard of a $50 ticket was for Pink Floyd in 1995. Given the spectacle it was worth it. But since then shows and sporting events have become cost prohibitive. The $20 concert has become a $110 nosebleed seat plus "convenience" charges. The $30 NFL ticket has become $275. This is all assuming
        • by enjar ( 249223 )
          I agree with pretty much everything you said. I was able to swing a Metallica ticket in high school no problem, working a part-time minimum wage job. We all got tickets, grabbed some fast food on the way to the show and had a great time. This was for the Justice tour, so they were a pretty big name by then and they played a local arena (and rocked!). Metallica just came by where I live playing an arena show. The crap tickets were well over $100. AC/DC also came around for what seems like their third or four
          • Yeah a $12 oor$ light is asinine. The only people trying to do it right are the Foo Fighters. Tickets go on sale at the arena a day or two BEFORE they go on sale at Ticketdisaster to the public/ internet. All seats max out at $65 with at least a third of the arena available at $35. They want the fans to attend. Last show of theirs I saw was about 3 hours. That's how it's done!
        • Baseball is the exception -- you can still get a $15 seat. Pretty good deal if you don't mind going a few hours without eating.

          • by enjar ( 249223 )
            Theoretically, there are $15 seats at Fenway ... but realistically you are going to be out at least $75, probably more. The Fenway Frank is also very hard to resist. I've heard of people going to Cleveland, Baltimore or Toronto to see the Sox for the same money as going to a game at Fenway depending on what seats you are willing to pay for.
  • I had a subscription to MLB.tv for a couple years, I'm also one of the five baseball fans in Canada (hi there) one thing that annoyed me is that they blackout the games that are shown locally, as if I'm sitting in front of my TV all the time. The whole point of me getting a subscription to the damn service was so that I could watch a game on my mobile device or at my computer on their site, but nope, if a team I follow was on TV it was blacked out on the site / app service.

    So yeah, cancelled that PDQ. I und

    • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @02:39PM (#54841017)

      About those mlb.tv blackouts ... I'm in Hawai`i and MLB blacks out all California teams as being "local market." Right, I'm going to travel 2,400 miles to see a "local" game.

  • Wasn't this already tried many years ago in Second Life? I imagine this will be just as popuar
  • Baseball is quite limited in its popularity in the world stage. If you want to make serious money, choose a global sport.

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