April 10, 2005 One of the problems of 3G services for mobile phones is that although they are capable of streaming video for the duration of a sporting event, the cost would be prohibitively expensive on the basis of data transfer alone. One intelligent solution to providing live sport over 3G comes from Japanese developer Craftmax via its new “Digital Stadium” software. Digital Stadium broadcasts real-time animation of American and Japanese professional baseball games over DoCoMo 3G mobile phones. An animation of every play is broadcast in real time, with the speed and trajectory of the pitch, correctly uniformed avatars of each player and all the sound effects of the crowd, the hit, the movements of the players and the ball. There’s also a live scoreboard and everything but the popcorn.
The Digital Stadium software that is downloaded into the phone prior to the game holds a database of 30,000 plays that takes place in baseball games – basically, that’s everything that can possibly happen during a game. After that, it’s just a matter of getting the uniforms the right colour and getting the names right. So instead of sending live video, it sends the code for the play that is taking place and the software at the phone creates the animation of the pitcher, fielder, runner and ball movements on the screen of the mobile phone.
By minimising the amount of communication data being sent, Digital Stadium is very cost-efficient to use keeps the data transmission fee down to 40 yen ($US0.40) for three and a half hours of continuous connection and all the game play live. Now that’s clever.
What’s more, when you connect up in the middle of the game, you can catch up with a high speed playback that runs you quickly through what has happened in the game until you get to the current live moment.
You can also choose just the highlights, which runs you through just the scoring plays – indeed, there are many things a digital data playback can do that a video playback can’t – it’s really just reading out of a database, so as the program is developed, it will be possible to see all the plays a particular player might have been involved in.
Of course Baseball is the easiest of all the major sports to do this with because all of the players don’t move all of the time – most of the movement is confined to one or two players and everyone else’s behavior is very predictable.
Cricket would be similarly easy to cover in this manner but as far as team sports go, it gets much harder from there – all football codes, basketball, netball and hockey all involve all the players moving on the filed moving simultaneously, meaning the players will need to wear transponders so their position can be tracked, or alternatively, some form of video tracking might be possibly employed. The most promising technology for tracking all of the players on a sporting field to date is the Cairos system, which would enable Digital Stadium software to be used in soccer and any other sport for that matter.