SLAM or Simultaneous Localization And Mapping is a technology that allows a system to both travel and map a location at the same time, hence the name. SLAM and in particular Visual SLAM which uses 3D vision is a technology that shows a lot of promise for the development of autonomous systems like self-driving cars. However, what some people might not expect is that Visual SLAM is also having a large impact in the world of sports.
While it’s easy to think of sports traditionally as a simple matter of physical effort and determination, technology plays a larger role in this field with each passing day. And innovative tech like SLAM is completely changing the way sports are being played, players are being trained, and even how investors and audiences interact with it.
Before we explain just how SLAM in sports games is changing the industry, we need to cover three important terms to understand this technology. And these are Calibrating, Tracking, and Registration. All of these are essential to understand how SLAM systems can “understand” their surroundings, and form the backbone of all the applications we will see today.
The first term is Calibrating and it refers to an offline adjustment of measurements. Calibration is responsible for the static registration of information in a SLAM system and in short means that a sensor will be synchronizing itself with a standing coordinate. In other words, this step ensures that the system reads its own position accurately by comparing it with pre-existing data.
Next is Tracking which is responsible for the dynamic registration of information. Tracking technology is constantly calculating the user’s position relative to its space and its starting point. In short, Tracking mostly refers to motion and it’s the part of the technology that understands movement in real-time. In AR o Augmented Reality systems tracking also helps “translate” real movement into virtual movement, ensuring that the movement is understood in both the real and virtual settings.
Then we have Registration, which refers to the alignment of virtual and real objects. Registration depends on both Calibrating and Tracking and is what allows for real and virtual objects to share a coordinate system. In other words, Calibrating and Tracking technologies might be the ones that are obtaining all the relevant information, but Registration is the step that ensures this information is compiled logically.
These three terms come together to portray movement in Augmented Reality settings, and this particular application of SLAM is the one that is leaving the largest impact on the world of sports.
Now that we understand how SLAM works and how is it used in AR and VR systems it’s time to cover how this technology is being used in sports. And it all starts with the improved accuracy of the information SLAM provides in a competitive setting.
Human error has always been a factor when it comes to sports matches, and it’s something we can’t dismiss when we are talking about referees and other officials on the court. All it takes is a second of distraction to lose track of the ball or a player, and this can result in inaccurate decisions. AR offers a solution to this challenge in the form of the “Hawk-eye system”. Hawk-eye is an Augmented Reality technology that constantly tracks the trajectory of a ball or another object to accurately predict its path. This means that for example, officers can check a Hawk-eye replay to confirm if a tennis ball landed on the court or outside of it.
There is also a role for AR and Simultaneous Localization And Mapping in entertainment and sports. Fans can also discover new ways to enjoy their favorite sports through the use of AR technology in various ways. VR headsets provide an immersive way to enjoy their favorite matches, and SLAM tech can allow them to become part of a virtual match. Similarly, AR provides mesh reality and fantasy with fantasy sports leagues. AR Sports combine the teambuilding aspect of fantasy leagues with real players through geolocation and point marker integration. This means that players can now carry their fantasy league in their pocket and use AR technology to play right on the streets.
SLAM technology in sports goes beyond improved judging and fan integration, it can also be a major marketing tool when used correctly. The main advantage that AR technology offers is interactivity. Traditional ads are ultimately a passive medium, but AR marketing allows the audience to interact with it and as a result, they’ll get more invested.
Through AR every single brochure, poster, and ticket can become an immersive marketing opportunity. Fans can interact with their phones and use QR codes to visit new websites, discover more information or receive exclusive deals and promotions. This also provides other venues to market the products of sponsors to audiences, and generate even more revenue and longer-lasting partnerships.
Perhaps the most impressive application of these technologies in marketing appears in the form of digiBOARDs. These boards combine physical screens with advanced tracking to provide ads that change based on the broadcast and region. This way the ads that are shown in person differ from those seen on TV, ensuring that every broadcast gets relevant advertisements for their region.
AR is one field where investors and developers are largely in synch and coordinated. Right now, Augmented Reality is being developed at an incredible pace, with more and more breakthroughs finding mainstream use. This means that the industry as a whole is booming and general audiences still see AR as new and exciting technology. This in turn results in investors seeing AR as an area worth investing in, which further ensures the stability of the industry.
Another key advantage AR holds for investors is its sheer adaptability. SLAM technology like the digiBOARDs shows how easy it is to market to countless markets with a single sports event. And most devices running an AR application provide a direct way for teams and fans to exchange information. Meaning that AR and SLAM are great opportunities for investors to maximize profits.
SLAM also offers interesting applications when it comes to the development of athletes both inside and outside the field. Through SLAM imaging both players and coaches can review physical performance on a given match, and detect patterns in their movements. This allows athletes to reduce unnecessary movements and get a clearer grasp on how they truly interact with their environment.
Visual repetition provides an opportunity to discover new ways to improve their techniques, as well as to prepare for new situations and plays. SLAM brings the latest technology to training, and that completely changes the landscape for sports.
While Visual SLAM is often associated with advanced robotics and mapping, it has effortlessly found a role in the world of sports as well. SLAM tracking, calibrating, and registration technologies are essential for the development of new AR applications; which are improving the sports experience both for fans, players and investors.
AR provides fans with a new way to interact with their favorite teams and sports, while also providing ample opportunities for athletes and officials to improve on and off the court. Coupled with this the incredible growth of the AR industry, as well as its marketing capabilities, make it a promising investment opportunity.
There’s no denying that AR and SLAM have changed the way sports are played and enjoyed, and as the technology is still in its infancy, the full potential of these developments is still untapped.