You may think Wimbledon, with its exquisitely manicured grass courts, royal family attendees, and strawberries and champagne is an old-fashioned affair. You’d be wrong. This year, along enjoying a retractable roof, the audience is using an augmented reality app to enhance the game.
The Wimbledon Seer app, which was developed with IBM and runs on Google’s G1 smartphone, gives anyone in the stadium using a smartphone the ability to superimpose additional data about the match onto the court when viewed through the camera’s lens. The Wimbledon Seer includes a locator function, match data, news feeds, information on refreshments, and can even tell you if the lines at a particular cafe or restaurant are long.
This is an excellent example of how augmented reality can deliver a bonus service to users–and a closed venue like Wimbledon facilitates the augmentation in this case. Instead of having to aggregate data from external Web sources, as other nascent AR apps have to (like the upcoming Layar app), it comes instead via Wimbledon’s own controlled channel. It will also give developers a way to test how effective the system is on a ticketed crowd estimated to reach 500,000 by the end of the two weeks. The Seer app is available as a beta-test version, and a download will be available soon.
The championship, run by the All England Lawn Tennis Club, is also releasing a simpler version of Seer which aggregates Twitter feeds from players and real-time info from IBM “scouts” who are placed around the venue–no-doubt noting if foot traffic through particular areas is too high, or if the weather is holding. And there’s an iPhone app too, which delivers live score information, real-time news, and video highlights of the action.
Wimbledon–which starts today–is also showing off its brand new retractable roof, meaning rain won’t stop play on the Centre Court. Tennis is quite definitely getting more high tech.