Google Glass taking fans closer to the action

By Jay Cohen

Associated Press

Published: Monday, June 30 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

"We're on a constant search for ways to enhance the overall fan experience at Lincoln Financial Field," said Brian Papson, the vice president of marketing for the Eagles. "So what caught us is that this is a creative, different, new innovative way to do that."

There are many factors at play with the use of Glass at sports venues, including the strength of the WiFi network and the reliability of moving people wearing the technology. Thousands of people using their phones to post to social media or check fantasy sports can grind WiFi networks to a halt, and a courtside perspective becomes much less attractive when it's an obstructed view.

That's where CrowdOptic comes in.

"What our stuff does is it really converts all this chaos into a demonstrable broadcast feed that, for example, the Pacers can really count on," said Jon Fisher, the CEO and co-founder of San Francisco-based company. "So they can put Glass out there and it can work in many cases as well as any other fixed camera asset because of these algorithms at work."

Maintaining a reliable feed is just one potential problem for sports teams deploying the technology. There is concern about overwhelming fans with a barrage of viewing options. The eyewear has faced criticism over its intrusiveness and its ability to take photos and video through voice-activated commands, making it more likely that even attentive fans could find themselves on the videoboard before they realize what's going on.

The rollouts have been conducted with great care.

"We haven't just determined yet who's going to be wearing the Glass and deploying it, that's all up for a lot of discussion," Papson said. "But I think as content such as this continues to be more available, I think every team has those discussions as to what's not appropriate to provide."

Asked about his vision of the future, Johnsen paints a compelling picture.

"If a fan wants to be Tom Brady, 10 seconds left in the Super Bowl, in the red zone making the call in the huddle and executing a play," he said, "I think it's absolutely possible next 10 years if not sooner ... with Glass-like technology."

Online: Google Glass: https://www.google.com/glass/start/ CrowdOptic: http://www.crowdoptic.com/ Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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