If you’re a fan of Star Wars, then IBM’s most recently granted patent in the Sports Analytics sector is surely one that will excite you. The international tech conglomerate is about to take the time-honored tradition of watching your opponent’s film before a game and combine it with a page out of the George Lucas playbook as it implements one of the most iconic pieces of technology from his movies. No, sadly it is not lightsabers. Instead, U.S. Patent No. 10,912,983 discloses a method and program used to create holographic on-field images of a team’s opponent, much like the famous films used to communicate with characters from across the galaxy. While the method and device used to make these holograms is not disclosed, claiming the broad term of “holographic image generation device”, there is plenty more to get excited about in this patent.
First, the idea behind this patent is creating an interactive holographic display to use in-team sport training applications where the device takes video data of the team’s previous plays/strategy and uses that data to mimic the team’s strategy with the holograms. Essentially, it is just watching the other team’s film in “ultra-real” 3-D, right? Well it doesn’t end there as these holographic players would also be interactive with real players, using biometric sensors to alter their play styles to adjust to a movement of the actual player and allowing the team to essentially practice by competing with a computer-generated version of their opponent.
While this technology is likely a decent ways away from commercialization, it can do more than get us excited about the future of sports. It also gives us some insight into the patent strategy of IBM and the specific areas it is interested in within the sector. Along with Disney and Nike, IBM is a pretty special company in the Sports Analytics sector as it is one of the few large public companies present. Right now, the sector is largely made up of a lot of smaller private companies, unlike most tech sectors which tend to be the opposite. By patenting technologies IBM sees might be useful in the future, it might be trying to get ahead of the current curve in the market and secure its spot years down the road once the technology is generally more accessible. While only time will tell if this strategy is successful, just the thought of this technology is enough to likely get sports fans and players alike excited for what the future of sports may hold.
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