Sports fans can fill stadiums with holograms and real noise — but Tech Mahindra needs 5G networks to pull it off

Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New DelhiBCCL

  • Tech Mahindra and Canada-based ChampTrax Technologies are collaborating to create a ‘stadium-like’ experience for sports fans.
  • Using 5G technology and augmented reality (AR) users will be able to bring the stadium into their homes and watch the game with their friends over a holographic call.
  • The only catch is that India doesn’t have 5G network connectivity yet and 5G phones are expensive.
Social distancing is here to stay and most of us are going to be stuck watching our favourite teams play from home. However, if 5G networks finally make their way to India there’s a possibility that you could still be at the stadium as a hologram and have the stadium come to you using augmented reality (AR).

Indian IT giant Tech Mahindra and Canda-based ChampTrax Technologies have partnered up to create a ‘stadium-like’ experience for global sports fans since social distancing looks like it’s here to stay for a while. “As part of our collaboration with ChampTrax, we will work on 5G use cases for introducing holographic virtual fan to the stadium,” Jagdish Mitra, the chief strategy officer and head of growth at Tech Mahindra told Business Insider.

Empty seats at a cricket stadiumBCCL


However, it may be a while before we see this deployed in Indian stadiums. One, there’s a cost consideration that needs to be taken into account. And two, 5G networks are yet to be deployed locally. The 5G auction hasn’t taken place yet and seems to have taken a backseat amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown. “We are engaging in talks with multiple sports clubs and teams across the globe to bring a best of both world experience in sports,” said Mitra.

Hologram fans at stadiums
To set up the experience, the stadium will have to bear the cost of the technology. “Stadiums will be required to have proper 5G infrastructure and will also have to install 5G enabled cameras,” said Mitra.

For the players, ChampTrax’ ‘HearMeCheer’ solution will be able to combine the audio from each fan and project that noise to the stadium. “As the audience watches a game with the web app it automatically sends microphone data that aggregates these sounds to create a single audio stream effect of a unified crowd,” he explained.


New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru StadiumBCCL

Mitra promises that the noise and cheers won’t distract players from their game. “These will be integrated into real-time broadcasts. I feel these crowd noises or cheers, motivates a player rather than distracting them,” he said.

Tech Mahindra is also working on some use cases to play ‘crowd cheers’ at the stadium in order to keep the players motivated during the game. However, this may also mean that heckling or ‘boos’ from the crowd when the referee makes a bad call could get filtered out. “There’s no feedback from players yet, as this solution launched only four weeks ago,” said Mitra.

For the fans watching from home
Mitra explains that a person sitting at home will be able to watch the game in their kitchen, living room or bedroom with their friends through a ‘holographic call’. “You can even project the game in your kitchen and watch from any angle as if it is happening in your kitchen,” he explained.

Fans at home will also need to be on a 5G network and own a 5G and AR enable phone — and that doesn’t come cheap. “Sports with a live fan experience is something that we will miss now for a while. In order to support the revival of sports and help sports fan adjust to new normal post COVID,” said Mitra.

5G phones in IndiaPrice
RealMe X50 Pro₹39,999
iQOO 3₹44,990
One Plus 8₹44,990
One Plus 8 Pro₹54,999
Xiaomi Mi 10₹49,999

It’s a little weird for any sports fan to watch a Bundesliga or Premier League match with empty stands in the background and emulated ‘fan noises’ in the background to replace the chants of actual fans in the sidelines. Tech Mahindra and ChampTrax want to change the status quo with their sports technology.

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