Intel Beefs Up Virtual Reality Capabilities with Startup Buy
The steady stream of companies making ever-larger investments in immersive entertainment technology continues to accelerate. This time it’s Intel, which is acquiring Israeli startup Replay Technologies for a reported $175 million.
Replay uses high-resolution cameras (pictured above) and high-performance computing to allow viewers to watch sporting events from every possible angle.
The deal should give Intel a leg up on a virtual reality market that has been heating up since last year with companies like Google and Facebook announcing new platforms to provide more immersive entertainment experiences. In particular, the buy gives Intel a technological advantage in the so-called “digitization of sports,” as Intel CEO Brian Krzanich described it. Oren Yogev, Replay Technologies’ CEO, is expected to join Intel as a corporate vice president once the deal closes in three weeks.
Watching the All-Star Game from Every Angle
Intel has been working with Replay Technologies since 2013, and had the opportunity to demonstrate Replay’s immersive 3D technology at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto last month. The event was broadcast on TV and online using Replay’s “free-dimensional” video technology.
Replay created a 3D video rendering of the court using 28 ultrahigh-definition cameras positioned around the arena and connected to Intel-based servers. The system allowed television networks to broadcast 360-degree views of key plays
“More than ever, everything in sports is becoming digital and measurable,” Krzanich wrote in an article published by Sports Illustrated last month. “Everything we do in a sport can now be captured as a piece of data.”
The 'Immersive Sports' Market
Intel said it plans to use Replay’s 3D technology to help develop services for immersive sports. “Immersive sports requires the high-performance computing Intel is known for, and it’s also data driven -- fueling the continued build out of the cloud,” Wendell Brooks, senior vice president of Intel Corporation and president of Intel Capital, wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition. “For athletes, coaches, broadcasters and fans, the ability to capture, analyze and share data adds compelling new dimensions to the game.”
According to Wendell, not only will this data allow sports to be broadcast from every possible angle in real time, it will also give athletes more data they can use to train and compete. Also, adding big data to sporting events will make officiating them easier, faster, and more objective.
News of the deal comes a week after reports surfaced that the chipmaker is planning to wade farther into the virtual reality space with an augmented reality headset of its own. Reportedly, Intel plans to use its RealSense 3D camera technology to give its headset an edge over the competition.
Meanwhile, last week Microsoft started taking pre-orders for the developer version of its HoloLens headset, an augmented reality platform designed to run on Windows 10. And augmented reality startup Meta also said it was taking orders for the $949 development kit for its Meta 2 headset, expected to ship sometime during the third quarter this year. Like the HoloLens, Meta seems to be primarily targeting enterprise applications for the platform.
Image Credit: Replay Technologies via Intel.
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