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Get In the Game: Interactive Sports Television

Ever wish you could watch Jimmer Fredette from every angle?

According to Dr. Dan Olsen, that wish could come true in the near future. Olsen, a professor in the Computer Science Department, recently published a paper about sports on Internet television. Olsen and his team researched new software which creates more options for sports viewers. The software he developed, based on the Move Networks platform, allows viewers to change camera angles, repeat the last play or skip ahead.

“We are exploring new ways for people to interact with their television experience,” Olsen said.

Unlike any options currently on the market, Olsen’s software allows viewers to select the angles of the game. By capturing all of the camera feeds and uploading them to a web server, these angles are available live.

Fans will use a basic game controller to manage their experiences with the click of a button.

This software takes Digital Video Recording (DVR), which is now used in many households, to an entirely new level. As opposed to simply fast-forwarding to the next play, those utilizing Olsen’s software would be able to immediately skip ahead to a specified point in playback.

For example, instead of watching BYU quarterback Jake Heaps set up plays this fall, viewers would have the option of pressing the “skip” button, which would jump forward to the glorious tackles and touchdowns.

This new software scores major points for interactivity. Next winter, if senior basketball stars Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo make an especially momentous play, Dr. Olsen’s software would allow viewers to relive the moment with the click of just one button and then view the play from several different camera angles.

Olsen’s software was tested on several BYU sports games.

“We showed that our software can handle any [two-opponent] sport and provide a consistent viewing interaction experience,” he said. “Our data also showed that viewers interacted with the software every 20 seconds on average; thus they are highly engaged with their viewing experience.”

Combining these new options of skipping forward, backward and changing angles, Olsen’s research found that many viewers enjoyed acting like a referee, replaying and deciding the calls for themselves. Rather than using the software as a time saver, most people actually spent more time watching sports.

“Internet TV is definitely the wave of the future,” Olsen said, “Interactive experiences like our sports work will become normal within 10 years.”

That should give BYU sports fans something to rise and shout about.

By Alysa Kleinman Posted on