Future of sports in volumetric 3D

I attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. One of the most impactful innovation I’ve experienced was the latest Unity Metacast demos, a groundbreaking new medium technology that will disrupt the world of sports, media, and entertainment.

Come-from-behind upsets, record-breaking games, super-human performances: Sports enthrall us and the drama is infectious. Unity Metacast puts you in the middle of the action where the sweat is flying and the excitement is palpable while letting you tailor your own magic moments.

Before digging on the technology side, let’s have a look. Unity and its partners used cameras to capture real UFC athletes – Kevin Lee and Georges St. Pierre – as they squared off against each other in the ring.

Unity Metacast Demo shown at Mobile World Congress

What is Unity Metacast?

Unity Metacast uses volumetric technology that streamlines the process of capturing, producing, viewing, and interacting with real sports events in 3D. On mobile devices (smartphone or tablet), you can experience your favorite game or match from any angle, letting you see every movement as if you’re among the athletes. This content can be viewed from any angle, at any moment in time. Audiences have the ability to see every bead of sweat, blow, takedown

Volumetric data is captured through Microsoft, Canon, and other volumetric capture providers. Unity then takes over from there by providing an entire pipeline from ingestion consumption on various devices.

Producers are able to tap into machine learning capabilities. They can analyze the data, recognize players, estimate poses, and determine the optimal placement of different cameras.

On the viewer side, fans are able to act as directors by viewing the action from any position, including “impossible” camera angles. They are able to see the smart-data overlays and purchase merchandise (like the shoes of their favorite player) all directly through the app.

What are the business opportunities?

With Smart analytics, annotation tools, ‘impossible’ camera angles, visual effects, dynamic advertising, sky have no limit! Viewer can tailor experience on the fly … while being targeted more efficiently by advertisers.

A real-time 3D sports platform that create and deliver interactive content, direct to the consumer, offer the ability to catch the consumer habits or intents. This valuable information can be ingest and reuse to deliver tailored advertising.

For sure, we will not face this technology by the end of year (2022) – due to the requested infrastructure for Telco operators – but in a near future, this may change the way sports are broadcasted.

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I'm a Microsoft employee, working on Technology Strategy for large Enterprise account.
I focus on industry business trends and explain how you can leverage Azure Game Stack & Xbox services.
I assume that I don't know anything. This is a great habit to do a full knowledge refresh and avoiding bias.