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Debut of ESPN Arena: A Jaw-dropping Virtual Soccer Analysis System On TV

ESPN UK will today premiere a jaw-dropping virtual soccer analysis system named ESPN Arena during the Chelsea against Everton game (only on UK TV).

The augmented reality system will allow ESPN pundits such as Kevin Keegan and Craig Burley to analyze tactics, positioning and key moments in games on a tabletop device that has computer generated characters.

It sounds intriguing, but the best way to visualize how well the system looks is to watch the accompanying video. In the example below, you can see how the ESPN UK pundits focus on Juan Mata who seemingly comes to live on the screen in front of you.

ESPN Arena is based around a 65-inch touchscreen built into a table, and reportedly cost ESPN UK £150,000. The technology is developed by a company in London named RT Software, who have worked with Sky Sports, IMG and Setanta.

No word as of press time whether we’ll see anything like this on ESPN in the United States.


Also, here’s a video from RT Software which shows in great detail how their software works. The 3D stadium is particularly incredible:

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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3 Responses to Debut of ESPN Arena: A Jaw-dropping Virtual Soccer Analysis System On TV

  1. BuckNasty says:

    That’s awesome ESPN! Only problem is you over-spent. For just £149,999 I could deliver you a complete vintage 1970s Electric Football set, complete with rubber-band activated kicks and hand-painted Wayne Rooney figurines. Think of the savings!

  2. Rob says:

    ESPN in the US already has this technology, this is just a new application of it. From what I’ve seen, shows like SportsCenter and SportsNation use the sensors on the camera to track around and create graphic elements like game matchups and poll results (that bouncy bar graph on SN is really cool sometimes!) They also do all that Madden stuff where the NFL guys walk around the players and show how the plays going to develop. I hope they can come up with a use for it in the US because from those videos is seems like a pretty cool tool that could make halftime reports a lot more interesting.

  3. Laurence says:

    Does this remind anyone else of:


    I know this is the first evolution of the technology in football, hopefully the future of this will be less focused on making stylish graphics and actually focussing on tactical insight.

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