Sports software lets you 'be the ball'

Intel and OradNet unveil TOPlay, which allows PC users to view a soccer game from the perspective of a player - or the ball
Written by Richard Shim, Contributor

Intel wants to help sports fans take literally the Zen-like admonition "be the ball". With partner OradNet, the company announced the release on Thursday of a new sports program, called TOPlay, which allows PC users to control their view of a game. One perspective is a ball's-eye view, meaning that viewers can witness the game from the perspective of the ball.

The games can be streamed from a Web site over a 56kbps connection, according to Intel spokesman Manny Vara. "The application was created to compensate for low bandwidth and poor resolution so that users can get a good picture of the game," Vara said.

The software is the first to use Intel's Interactive Sports software and OradNet's sport-tracking technology. "This software isn't platform-specific -- even Mac users can use this software," Vara said.

As previously reported, the project comes out of Intel's software labs in Oregon. Another piece of software that will hit the market soon is called "ink messaging", which lets people send handwritten notes across instant messaging networks. Asian markets will likely adopt it first, partly because of the difficulty of typing Asian characters, researchers at the company have said.

The initial version of the sports program takes live soccer matches and converts the actions, including player and ball movements, into data. The data is then used to create three-dimensional representations of the game. Viewers can zoom in and out of plays, use slow motion for replays and change the perspective so they can watch a game through the eyes of a player -- or from the ball's perspective.

An entire soccer match takes up about 4MB, Vara said. The audio streams at 5kbps and the video at 25kbps.

The software will be commercially available at the end of the month. Intel and OradNet are in talks with various sports Web sites, including ESPN.com, to make the technology available to visitors of the sites.

Next year, football fans will be able to use the technology.

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