Intel-owned Voke is partnering with the National Football League (NFL) to create virtual reality content for four upcoming games. Using Voke’s TrueVR technology, the tech company will produce 360-degree highlights starting with the Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars game on December 4, followed by the New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 11, the Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans on December 18, and the Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles on January 1.
Voke will work alongside NFL Films to produce the in-game and postgame highlights, which will be hosted by NFL Network reporter Courtney Fallon and former NFL wide receiver David Nelson from each game site. The duo will introduce the experience and will be calling the plays and providing analysis of the 360-degree highlights.
Fans will be able to access the NFL VR experience for free in the NFL channel within the Voke app. “Virtual reality has the potential to bring a unique perspective to our fans to complement the different ways they currently enjoy the game today,” William Deng, director of media strategy and business development at the NFL said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Voke as we continue to experiment and create new experiences in this emerging medium.”
Voke co-founder Sankar Jayaram told [a]listdaily that the company will use between 48 and 72 of its proprietary cameras arranged in grouped arrays at multiple positions on the field. NextVR recently created 360-degree content with the NFL, but Jayaram said Voke’s technology is fundamentally different.
“Our TrueVR technology is based on multiple pairs of stereoscopic lenses stitched together in real-time,” Jayaram said. “This provides true stereoscopy through the entire field of view and also allows for significant customization for various types of sports and entertainment events. In addition, our technology provides an undistorted 2D panoramic, user controlled experience for smartphones, tablets and computers.”
Jayaram said 360 is a completely different medium and should not be thought of as just enhanced video. “360 opens up a large number of possibilities for new fan experiences, in addition to capturing everything all the time on the field,” he said.
Since being acquired by Intel in November, Voke has upped its game. “The Intel Sports Group is focusing on next-generation fan engagement through the digitization of sports,” Jayaram explained. “VokeVR fits really well into this focus. We have put plans in place for significant growth to support a large number of events to be covered worldwide in the next 12-24 months. There are also significant synergies with existing Intel technologies that we are already beginning to exploit.”
While NFL experiments with 360-degree video have focused on highlight reels so far, that could change in the future. “I believe all future engagement of fans with sports and entertainment will be in a medium very different from what we have today,” said Jayaram. “It will definitely be surround experiences.”
Jayaram said new platforms such as Google Daydream View and Sony PlayStation VR will result in larger audiences for the VokeVR experience. In addition, these platforms will need really good experiences to take advantage of their capabilities. These lead to very good synergy between VokeVR experiences and these platforms.