Fast Company

Next Generation Augmented Reality Will Transform Live Events

The CrowdOptic app for iPhone overlays statistics in real-time, enhancing performers, players, and songs.

CrowdOptic iPhone

Imagine watching a basketball game and seeing all of the vital statistics surround your favorite player without taking your eye off the game. CrowdOptic aims to visually enhance the event experience through a heads-up display on an iPhone. Instead of marketing to consumers, however, CrowdOptic is able to charge event organizers, sports managers, and advertisers a (sizable) premium for hyper-detailed analytics of knowing which performers are most popular and when. While the app itself is certainly a step forward, what it represents is the next stage in the event experience.

Clever readers may know that commercial optical recognition, such as Google Goggle's, hasn't advanced to the point where users can snap a picture to identify a person, let alone a moving target. CrowdOptic works by sensing the iPhone's GPS location, compass heading, and time of day to know which object is most likely being viewed through the iPhone screen. It needs at least one other user looking at the same object to triangulate the position. Thus, it can tell which band is on stage, which side of a tennis court a player is on, or which soccer player is running down field.

CrowdOptic then overlays the screen with data such as the name of the song being played, say, or the point guard's free throw percentage. "Its the live action that matters," says founder Jon Fisher. Users can then snap photos, and share with friends across the social media universe.

However, CrowdOptic bills itself as an enterprise app, and the company says it has already inked a large deal with a major (undisclosed) sports management agency. It's lucrative for the agency to know, for instance, which sports moves or songs are most photogenic to the crowd. Additionally, pictures snapped with CrowdOptic can be embedded with hidden metadata, and tracked as they travels throughout the Internet, giving more yet unknown insight into how their clients are perceived online.

Advances in augmented reality are truly exciting for the possibilities they portend. Imagine watching the Olympics and tracking how fast each runner is going as they sprint to the finish line, or watching a boxing match and knowing what each punch is and how much damage it is doing to the other guy. Or, we may never again have to ask who an actor is in a movie, simply point and see their entire IMDB history.

The future of augmented reality is the power of a film buff, sports announcer, and sophisticated speedometer in your pocket.

Follow Greg Ferenstein on Twitter. Also, follow Fast Company on Twitter.

[Image: CrowdOptic]

Add New Comment

2 Comments

  • atimoshenko

    On a somewhat philosophical level, every object can be seen as having both a physical and an informational component. So we are not so much augmenting reality, as beginning to get the ability to interact with another part of its underlying nature. Selectively exposing the informational side of objects therefore makes a hell of a lot of sense. Doing so through a live view through a camera though... strikes me more of the state of e-Books in 1989 - good idea, terrible UX.

  • Dan Fonseca

    This has the potential to change the way we engage in live events. Data is exploding and with everything going real time, we can really have rich stats that complement our live events updated every second, that could be huge!

    However, will it take away from the event's experience if we have our phones up all the time? Especially at a concert or other events where high audience feedback is needed. What other monetary opportunities will be available? Live ads? Hidden stories? LOVE IT!www.whoisdanfonseca.comwww.twi...