The "Immersive Reality in Sports" pilot project, developed by FC Barcelona, Telefónica, GSMA and 5G Barcelona enables sports fans to immerse themselves completely in a sporting event by creating the illusion of being on the field itself.
Mobile World Congress previews the first broadcast of Valverde’s Barcelona team in action using 360 cameras connected by fifth generation mobile technology.
The 5G Stadium project developed by FC Barcelona and Telefonica has made the Camp Nou the first football stadium in Europe to have dedicated standard 5G coverage.
The deployment of the technology both in the stands and on the playing field, using Telefonica’s commercial band and a standard 3GPP Ericsson network, will enable the exploration of new and more immersive ways of enjoying sports events from home as if actually being in the stadium.
At the event, Telefonica and FC Barcelona beamed live images of the Camp Nou to the Mobile World Congress. A video also showed exclusive content from the first team training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, and a virtual tour of the stadium to showcase how 5G technologies can revolutionise the way sports content is shown on television.
The placement of 360 cameras in the different places around the Camp Nou without the need for cables means an immersive experience can be relayed to any home viewer. With Virtual Reality glasses, the spectator will be able to watch the match from the directors’ box, from behind the goal, by the benches, or from any viewpoint at any given time. Once this technology is fully operative, they will be able to watch and listen to the game as if they were on the field.
Major football stadiums have in recent years become places where new technologies play a key role in capturing and relaying sporting experiences; cablecams; flycams; video drones; reinforced mobile coverage and the broadcasting of exclusive content are just some of the innovations that enrich the television experience and that 5G will take to the next level thanks to the high uplink rate, lower latency and Edge Computing, which means 360 cameras can be positioned without the need to worry about communication cables.
5G technologies also boosts video flows between 30 Mbps and up to 200 Mbps because of the qualities of 360 in 4K, while a streaming server can be placed in the closest Edge of a mobile network to the users meaning multiple spectators with 360 goggles can be immersed in the greatest viewing experience available today on mobile devices.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of FC Barcelona, said: “At FC Barcelona it makes us very proud that the Camp Nou is the first football stadium in Europe with internal 5G coverage. The Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe. It holds more than 90,000 spectators and when Espai Barca is finished the capacity will rise to 105,000.
“Thanks to this agreement between FC Barcelona and GSMA, in partnership with Telefonica, we have made the Camp Nou a laboratory for innovation in the most advanced technology in Mobile telephony, 5G.”
Emilio Gayo, president of Telefonica Espana, said: “At Telefonica we are convinced that connectivity is the oxygen of the digital world in which we are immersed, and the new capabilities of the 5G network will be essential in this new generation of services.
“Watching a world-class football match live is not a privilege that everyone can enjoy, and this project means we can dream of offering our customers the chance to take a front seat at sporting events.”
John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA, added: “The 5G Stadium-Immersive Reality in sports pilot programme is further proof that the technology industry is diversifying towards new sectors, and becoming more and more relevant.
“With immersive reality, new generations will experience sports differently and sport fans will be offered unprecedented access, and will also be able to customize their own experiences from any angle in 360.”
Image: FC Barcelona