E has announced the launch of Match Day Experience, a new Augmented Reality platform which offers viewers a virtual in stadium experience through the BT Sport app.
EE and BT Sport, owned by giants of telecom BT, are working collectively to utilise 5G technology to bring a range of enhanced experiences, including a Watch Together feature which allows sports fans to watch live matches with friends and family, similar to Disney Plus’s GroupWatch and Netflix Party, which have grown in popularity during lockdown.
Another feature of the Match Day Experience is the enhanced 360 degree viewing, which allows fans to move their smart device around to see the entire stadium. Fans are also able to pinch and zoom, putting them in control of how they watch the match. The new Stadium Experience uses Augmented Reality to create a virtual doorway which fans can walk through and appear in their favourite team’s stadium and get a virtual behind-the-scenes experience, getting to see areas such as trophy rooms, dressing rooms and dugouts.
Within the Match Day Experience platform is the Manager Mode feature, similar to the Match Day Live feature. This uses Augmented Reality to display live statistics, including player speeds and distance covered overlaid onto the game, giving fans additional match analysis.
Premiership Rugby, Premier League and Champions League football are among the first to take advantage of the latest technology later this month, with the first gaming being Manchester City v West Ham on October 24.
Chief Operating Officer at BT Sport, Jamie Hindhaugh confirmed in a recent interview that the new features have been developed in collaboration with several technology start-ups.
Hindhaugh stated: “We’re very keen on strategic partnerships. That’s how you develop great products. We’re phenomenally pleased with how our partners have helped us to enhance our offering and have offered their ideas that help to shape how BT works and what we can give to fans.”
Most of the new features have been developed to accommodate the fact that most games are being played behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to give the fans an experience similar to that of being in the grounds. Hindhaugh commented that the effects of Covid-19 had made Watch Together a priority, however, BT Sport had been working on the technology for almost three years.
“I’ve always felt that the social viewing experience was very relevant, and it took a lot of development to make sure the we could sync up the viewing experience of the live game while you’re chatting to your friends, because what you don’t want is someone cheering and then you wait for it to happen on screen.” Hindhaugh continued.
The launch of Match Day Experience follows the release of Apple’s iPhone 12 range, which EE states the new technologies are “optimised” for, as Apple’s only 5G-compatible phones, but also confirmed that the Match Day Experience will be compatible with older iPhone devices.