SBJ/July 22-28, 2013/Idea Innovators

Sankar Jayaram

Photo by: RAJAH BOSE

Sankar Jayaram remains a firm believer in 3-D technology.

Jayaram, a Washington State University professor of mechanical engineering and computer science, is the co-founder of 3D-4U, a company developing 3-D technology for mobile devices using sports as the key content.  Last month, about the same time ESPN announced it would discontinue its 3-D channel, Jayaram was in Qatar capturing video of a World Cup qualifier soccer match for Al Jazeera Sport.

It was among several tests 3D-4U is conducting for potential clients around the world as Jayaram pushes the technology beyond the venue into the hands of the consumer.

It fits with the development of 3-D mobile Web browsers that do not require users to wear special glasses to view those images, Jayaram said.

The mobile piece follows an initial application at Washington State’s Martin Stadium. Last fall, the school rolled out 3D-4U technology in 21 new suites, folded into 47-inch HD TVs. Fans can choose the camera angle they prefer with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom in on the action.

The mobile version is the next step, allowing users to control the cameras, create their own clips from replays, and share those files with others through social media channels, Jayaram said.

Jayaram, 52, has studied 3-D technology for more than 20 years. The 3-D patents he filed as far back as 1994 went nowhere in large part because the system he developed was ahead of its time.

“I learned from that,” Jayaram said. “Just knowing that you can build the technology is not a good enough reason to do it right away. You have to make sure the market is ready for it.”
— Don Muret
Innovation you’re most proud of: The ability to put a smile on a fan’s face when they create their own production of a highlight or replay by going back in time and changing their camera perspective and share that creation with their friends on social media.
Last innovation that made you say, “Wow!”: The quality of graphics and processing capabilities on the smartphone.
It may sound crazy now, but soon we’ll be able to …: Be completely immersed in a mixed reality/augmented reality sports viewing experience where we can “be” in a stadium virtually with our own friends, sitting together talking to each other, enjoying the game and being able to see each other as if we are all together in the stands or on the sidelines, while we are all really at our own homes in different cities.
A less-than-perfect outcome that you learned from: There is no substitute for live testing at an event. In one of the first events we tested our technology, everything worked perfect until the field lights were turned on just before the game and image data sizes changed enough to crash our system.
What brings out your creativity? Watching a sports event and thinking, “I wish I could really …” or listening to other sports fans say “I wish.”


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