Intel 360 Replay gives fans control over distance and angle they use to watch the Big Game
Viewers of this week’s Super Bowl LI will get more than a good view of Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady throwing and scrambling. They’ll get a look at his morning routine via a commercial from Intel Corp. showing off the abilities of its new Project Alloy virtual-reality headset.
The video, which previewed last month on Intel’s Brady Everyday YouTube channel, shows the Patriots star waking up, brushing his teeth, and racing a pet Boxer to see who gets to eat a fallen pancake before expiration of the five-second rule.
The action is purposely mundane; the innovation it shows is the ability to change angles, zoom in on a subject and control how to view the action, using virtual-reality technology Intel will present in multiple forms.
The core of the tech featured at the game is the Intel 360 Replay system that gives viewers a chance to run their own replays and their own angles on those replays, using data from more than 30 5K cameras placed around the stadium. The 3D picture turns pixels into what Intel calls “voxels:” pixels with volume — that give viewers an immersive experience of the game, according to Intel.
Intel 360 Replay is only one part of the virtual-reality picture for Intel, however. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, Intel debuted its Project Alloy VR headset, to generally good reviews.
The headset, which was first announced at Intel’s August, 2016 Developers Conference, is a cordless VR unit that embeds its computing power in the headset rather than a computer. The headset provides a full VR experience with six degrees-of-freedom movement across open space with no cameras external to the headest. Its two fisheye lenses are run by a vision processor Intel plans to upgrade to one by vision-systems-manufacturer Movidius, a recent Intel acquisition, supplemented by Intel RealSense 200 depth sensors, all powered by an Intel CoreM processor.
The cameras help an inertial measuring unit handle motion tracking, augmented by RealSense data, providing visual resolution of 1080p to each eye.
Depth sensors and cameras combine to provide an accurate 3D picture of the environment outside the headset – allowing wearers to walk around in an augmented or virtual reality without tripping over a couch they can’t see, for example.
Immersive sports, travel, games and, eventually, IoT
The initial push is to use the headset to offer an immersive experience of the action at sports and entertainment venues by providing a rich, 3D, user-customizable feed to customers with the wish and bandwidth to watch games or concerts while wearing 3D headsets.
Intel calls the result of its 360 Relay “volumetric video” because the 360-degree camera views effectively digitize the volume of space within the stadium, allowing fans to choose the angle and distance from which they want to view the action.
“Our goal is that you could take any sport and through VR pick your seat,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at the company’s virtual-reality presentation at CES 2017.
The Intel Sports Group will market its services to fans, but also to coaches, giving a technical boost to those trying to boost human performance based on both performance data and visual judgement of an athlete’s technique, according to Sports Group head James Carwana, in a January interview in Geekwire.
The company plans to use artificial intelligence and other advanced data analysis tools to help coaches analyze the performance of athletes to improve performance, avoid injury and develop new training methods, Carwana said.
“We aspire to help provide new tools to trainers, coaches, athletic directors, and others so they can prescribe new ways for the athlete or the team to perform the best,” he told Geekwire
Intel intends to expand its VR approach beyond sports into areas like virtual travel to exotic places, virtual on-site inspections of equipment that is difficult to reach in person and virtual work and entertainment experiences of almost any other kind, Krzanich said during CES.
Intel has also announced plans to make its Project Alloy headsets and viewing technology available for gaming as well as games, and incorporate it into a varieity of Internet-of-Things-related projects including drone- and autonomous-vehicle development projects, robotics and a variety of retail applications for remote shopping and just-in-time virtual fitting and custom product manufacturing efforts.
Intel doesn’t plan to ship commercial versions of the headset itself. Instead it will provide the hardware to developers sometime during the second quarter of this year, relying on them to provide both the viewer and the viewing experience.
Those versions should be available during the fourth quarter of this year, according to PCWorld.