SBJ/May 12-18, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Plugged In: Jon Fisher, CrowdOptic

San Francisco-based CrowdOptic has been among the leaders in using Google Glass, the emerging Internet-connected eyewear. Through deployments in the NBA with Sacramento, Indiana and Orlando, among others, the combination of the Google Glass hardware and CrowdOptic’s software platform is giving fans unprecedented, real-time video vantage points, including eye views of players during warm-ups. It’s another way to help boost fans’ in-game experience, but several teams also are using the Google Glass/CrowdOptic combination to aid practice sessions. CrowdOptic CEO Jon Fisher co-founded the company four years ago and has an extensive history in startups and software development.

When you’re using this device for a very specific function, in our case dramatically enhancing the fan experience, the functionality is like nothing else that exists.


Photo by: DANIELLE COLE / CROWDOPTIC
On the value-add of Google Glass: This particular device is really a tiny computer as opposed to just a broadcasting device. You’re able to do some magical things with it at the analytics level, and then you are wearing it. You’re able to get these highly immersive, and sometimes disruptive, views of the action. We think that’s as strategic as it gets. And for sports teams, they want to continue to sell out their venues and convince fans to be there.

On consumer criticisms of the device: There’s been some criticism on the consumer side, but what we’ve seen is radical adoption on the enterprise side. We think it’s a sound strategy to get these things embedded into all sorts of industries: health care, logistics and so on. Of course, we’re currently focused on sports and entertainment, but you see these getting adopted by world-class enterprises, and we think the consumer piece will then be layered in after the fact.
 
On feedback from players: I wouldn’t necessarily say the players are in love with this. They’re going into their pregame routines, and they have a very difficult job to do. But when they see the fan reaction, that’s a whole different ballgame. When the players do decide to wear this, a fan actually gets to be the player, so to speak, and that’s a really crazy experience.

On the possibility of in-competition use: We’re excited about the possibilities. We’ve already done some work at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon in understanding the analytics of how players see, how they see peripherally, how they’re viewing the action. So I think the first step is not about getting the technology in the game quite yet, but on the practice field, you’re already starting to see it. Through Google Glass, you can see analytically how players are seeing a defense or offense, and that’s pretty incredible.

— Eric Fisher

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