OZ Sports launches AR platform to enhance matches at empty venues

Sports technology company OZ Sports has joined forces with visual content studio RVX Productions to launch a new product designed to enhance broadcasts of sports events played out in empty stadia during Covid-19.

OZ Arena, which also integrates into the wider OZ Connected Stadium platform, has been targeted at football and allows spectators to be dynamically added to live broadcasts with the use of advanced augmented reality technology.

Fans can pick their avatar, club’s shirt, have their face painted, and appear in the stadium in their favourite seat. Fans can also participate in a game through audio-only or with immersive visual participation in a live broadcast.

Detailing the offering, OZ Sports said: “OZ Arena tech can either completely replace the stadium entirely or augment spectators into existing empty stadiums. The process is added to each camera feed in the workflow opening up support for multi-camera processing.

“OZ Arena has advanced audio support, where fans can use an app to add live audio to the broadcast. The servers aggregate all fan audio, using low-latency time synchronisation and AI algorithms, to manage volume levels, enabling fans to yell as loudly as they like remotely, without overpowering the audio stream. These solutions enable broadcasts to maintain full integrity and sound effects during fan-free games.”

OZ Sports is headquartered in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, but also has offices in London, Central America, Florida and India.

It has worked with a range of leading sports agencies and federations, including the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), the Polish Ekstraklasa, IMG, Lagardère Sports and the European Broadcasting Union.

Gudjon Gudjonsson, chief executive of OZ Sports, said: “Due to coronavirus, we will see more games played behind closed doors with bans on large-scale public events.

“It is our job to keep the experience as exciting as during the non-pandemic world. We do that by learning from esports, bringing new exciting elements into the real-world broadcasts. Our augmentation filters can be customised based on the branding strategy and the creative plan of the league.

“The idea is to protect the integrity and experience of the game, by turning the attention away from the empty stadium, and instead replacing it with appealing surroundings to make the game more interesting, and as close to reality as possible. These are times to explore and experiment, to make sport even more appealing and to bring it closer to the latest developments in esports.”

The OZ Arena solution can be applied to live production as a per-match service. It supports both audio-only and the full immersive audio-visual solution. The OZ Arena system is an integrated part of OZ Connected Stadium, and can also be installed at a broadcaster’s facility, OB truck, or at the stadium.