MLBAM Building Augmented Reality Into App Through Partnership With Apple
MLBAM "believes its work in augmented reality with Apple could open a new level of fan engagement and understanding of baseball’s statistical nuances, and perhaps make going to a live game never quite the same again," according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. MLBAM was "part of Apple’s special event this month unveiling the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X." That event "outlined work developers such as MLBAM are doing with ARKit, a new Apple developer capability within the iOS 11 platform enabling augmented reality experiences on the iPhone and iPad." Though still "very much in prototype mode, MLBAM is developing an advance to its MLB.com At Bat mobile application in which pointing the iPhone or iPad at a particular player would automatically generate statistics and biographical information." Making this "work for the fan will also rely on ballpark wireless networks, which have been a keen focus of MLBAM in recent years and upgraded throughout the league." But the "amount of wireless data required to make the augmented reality offering work at scale is less than what is needed for some existing content such as mobile video highlights." MLBAM’s augmented reality offering is being developed with a "goal of a public rollout" for the '18 season (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/25 issue). In San Jose, Seung Lee notes MLB "demonstrated its prototype" at a Giants game last week in front of reporters (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 9/26).
SEEING IS BELIEVING: USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz writes interest may "continue to rise if the technology lives up to the promise displayed during its first public unveiling." It "certainly caught the attention of baseball and tech writers alike." There is "no lack of information available, with Statcast providing every nugget imaginable to the data-hungry fan." Besides "getting the word out through the media, last week’s demonstration served as a trial for what works in a real game setting, where 40,000 fans may be sucking up every bit of WiFi available at the ballpark." MLBAM Senior VP/Mobile Product Development Chad Evans and VP/Baseball Data Greg Cain were "displaying the technology on tablets, but they acknowledge most fans will use smartphones, and the difference in screen size may require some adjustments" (USA TODAY, 9/26). Evans said, "We want this to be fun for fans in the stands, to tell them something new about the game they can't see on the scoreboard or have to search hard for. Everything is in play" (CNET.com, 9/25).