Sky Explores 3D Gaming

BSkyB is researching and developing technologies to turn live sports broadcasts into 3D interactive games. The project has been conceived as an extension of plans to augment Sky Sports' existing virtual graphics analysis tools for the launch of its 3D channel.

"The merger of live 3D sports broadcast with gaming is the next level," Darren Long, Head of Operations, Sky Sports at BSkyB, told TVB Europe. "One of my projects is investigating how to convert 2D HD information into 3D with as much realism as possible. We're taking player tracking data and information about head, leg and arm movements for playback in 3D.

"The important thing is to see how we can do better analysis of live incidents," he explained. "Despite the fact that football is regularly covered with 20 or more cameras, there are still instances of play which cause debate, perhaps because a camera hasn't really captured it in the best possible way. What's important for us is to accurately show exactly what has happened.

"We want to go beyond Hawk-Eye and Piero (two current sports analysis systems which extrapolate movement and positional data into 3D) and see if we can deliver a 360-degree virtual world in as much 3D realism as possible," he continued. "The real challenge is processing it fast enough.

"As a spin-off from that, we're exploring applications such as downloading the data to mobiles or other devices for people to view, interact or play a game with the sequence."

Sony has announced plans to upgrade all PS3 consoles to be capable of playing back a raft of new 3D games during 2010. Meanwhile BSkyB, whose Sky Player VoD service is already available on the Xbox, is expected to be ported to a number of new devices in the New Year, beginning with Fetch TV and to include the PS3.

By Adrian Pennington, TVB Europe