​Infosys partners with Sony to live-stream tennis matches in virtual reality

The IT giant has announced plans to live-stream tennis matches through PlayStation VR at the upcoming French Open.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Infosys has partnered with Sony PlayStation VR and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in a bid to change the way tennis matches are viewed.

The IT giant showcased its existing virtual reality (VR) capabilities at the APIA International tennis tournament in Sydney, giving players, coaches, and tennis fans the ability to watch a match and visualise player statistics in unison.

Wearing a PlayStation VR headset, users are currently able to view up to 20 different screens from real court images, television match coverage, social media feeds, and Hawk-Eye footage, as some examples.

Speaking with ZDNet, Infosys vice president and regional head ANZ Andrew Groth said the plan is to have the immersive experience stream live to the end user's VR headset, with Infosys announcing plans to launch the capability in time for the French Open, which begins in May.

"This is really about changing the experience for people," Groth said. "We see that as the critical thrust here -- it's about how to change that experience and make it better."

According to the company, live-streaming a match in VR requires more than 20 cameras around the tennis court, but the technology would enable a fan to interact with the platform as if they were sitting courtside.

At last year's ATP Tour, Infosys unveiled a statistics platform that compiles in-depth player match information ranging from a match-winning point to where a ball lands from a particular serve. At the time, Infosys said it had over 12 million data points as well as five years of Hawk-Eye data to work with, which allows fans, players, and coaches to pin two players against each other and determine the winner based on past performance probabilities.

"I think even last year just getting the insights from the data was in itself really valuable and both this year and last year, I saw the players and coaches go: 'Oh wow, I didn't know this about my game', and it's quite exciting to see," Groth said.

"Integrating that with VR has taken it to a whole other level now in terms of visualisation and using that data in a live situation."

Groth believes VR has a lot of other applications outside the streaming of sporting matches, especially given many organisations have been collecting data since before they even realised it could be a commodity.

"Even with things like stadiums and having those connected stadium experiences ... whilst it's an end consumer impact, companies we're working with potentially are the ones running the stadiums or the sporting companies," he said.

"Then you go to more traditional customers, like the financial services sector, the mining sector -- absolutely is already embracing the use of VR.

"We're taking data, looking at getting insights from that data, looking at how to visualise and present that data, and then how to productise and use it -- that's applicable to any business. All our customers are enterprise customers, so this is very much aimed at them."

A recent study by Yeti LLC, a design and development studio that helps customers improve their product development processes, provided a look at the emerging VR market and noted that 85 percent of those surveyed for the report said they either already have VR projects under way, or will do so within one to two years.

The majority of the respondents also already have at least one VR-capable developer on staff, but recognise they are not yet staffed to handle large VR-related ambitions.

When asked to identify which primary industries they think VR usage will significantly accelerate in the next two years, 84 percent of respondents cited entertainment, 74 percent said education, 63 percent said media, and 60 percent said medical and healthcare, while high-tech was cited by 56 percent, travel by 54 percent, and real estate by 51 percent.

Australian property site realestate.com.au announced the launch of realestate VR in October, a virtual reality property app for Android mobile devices, while Swedish retail giant IKEA also took the leap into the world of VR, launching its Virtual Reality Kitchen IKEA VR experience in a bid to transform the way people shop.

Similarly, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia just finished a two-month trial to determine whether storybook-based VR games played at home can further the financial education that is being taught in schools.

In March, Telsyte predicted the popularity of VR in Australia to accelerate with the projected sale of 110,000 units in 2016 to kick off annual growth of more than 500,000 headsets per annum by 2020, with video game enthusiasts expected to lead the trend.

"Strong market growth will come in 2017 and 2018 as manufacturers ramp up production and more 'must have' use cases emerge," Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said at the time. "The strongest pent-up demand is coming from gamers, who clearly see VR as the next frontier in immersive entertainment."

In the United States, Luxury car manufacturer Jaguar used VR to unveil its first electric vehicle in November, with more than 300 guests in both Los Angeles and London using HTC Vive headsets to put themselves inside the concept car and interact live with other participants.

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