Intel pledges Winter Olympics will be ‘largest-scale VR event’

[The last sentence in this short story from SportTechie makes clear that the goal of the expanded VR coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics is to create presence experiences. The original story includes a 2:24 minute video and for more information see the press release at Around the Rings. –Matthew]

Intel Pledges Winter Olympics Will Be ‘Largest-Scale VR Event’

January 9, 2018
Joe Lemire

Intel’s ambitious plans for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang include producing the largest-scale virtual reality event with official broadcast rights partners such as NBC.

The tech giant has pledged more than 50 hours of live programming on its Intel True VR platform spanning 30 events, of which half air live and half on-demand. Among the events planned for live coverage are downhill skiing, figure skating and ice hockey. This is the first time any of the Winter Olympics will be available in live VR.

“Intel is helping to reimagine the Olympic Games so all spectator moments that happen in Pyeongchang become unforgettable experiences for people all over the world,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said at his keynote address Monday at the Consumer Electronics show, adding: “Intel is integrating innovative technology to ensure fans don’t just witness the moment, they experience it.”

In the U.S., this content will be available via the forthcoming NBC Sports VR app and will permit selection of various camera angles (typically between three to six options per event) in addition to the immersive panoramic views. There will non-event coverage as well, such as tours of Olympic venues and of scenic areas in South Korea.

“So maybe I want to watch half-pipe from under or beside or left or right or I want to see what they look like when they’re preparing for that jump, and I have the freedom to choose that camera angle,” Kalpana Berman, an Intel Sport user experience product manager, said.

Intel will be combining several of its technologies, such as volumetric video, virtual reality, computer vision, analytics, to produce the content. Some of its prior VR coverage includes weekly Major League Baseball games, NCAA basketball tournament games and PGA golf events.

“The Olympics have long been an opportunity to showcase emerging media technology,” NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said in a statement. “With the help of Intel’s industry-leading virtual reality technology, NBC Olympics will deliver a transformative experience that will bring to Olympic fans an entirely new perspective on the speed, thrills, and excitement of an Olympic Winter Games.”

“The Olympic Games is a unique opportunity to bring people from around the world together to build camaraderie and cheer for their favorite athletes,” said James Carwana, vice president and general manager of Intel Sports Group. “We are enabling a truly immersive experience, where fans get closer to the action than ever before allowing them feel like they are sitting in the stands for a front and center view of history being made.”

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