Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask

March 2009

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WiFi Service Delivers Live Game Feeds to Fans at Penguins NHL Games

March 5, 2009

If you're a sports nut, you enjoy multiple angle replays of various plays when watching your favorite team play. But what about those fans sitting in the arena or stadium who can't buy a replay on the giant screens that otherwise aren't good for much?   Well, two Carnegie Mellon University engineering faculty -- Priya Narasimhan and Rajeev Gandhi -- and their students have taken the first steps to resolving that issue. No, they haven't added instant replay to stadium video displays. Instead, they have taken an easier, and more effective path, leveraging the growth of wireless communications to create a wireless video service that delivers multiple camera feeds to WiFi-enabled mobile devices.  

  The service, called YinzCam, gives fans at games the ability to view real-time replays, game stats, and player information on their WiFi-enabled handsets, including the iPod Touch.   The service was also developed with the ability to support push and pull video to users -- presumably to eventually allow users to create their own instant replays. (Maybe even highlights from out-of-town games so Greg Galitzine can keep tabs on the goals his team, which leads TMC's fantasy hockey league.)   Not surprisingly, the Carnegie Mellon group was able to get a test drive of their service with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. A pilot of the service has been launched there, allowing fans to use their handsets to try out YinzCam's features.   While the YinzCam service is only in its pilot phase in Pittsburgh, the potential for widespread use is limited only by the number of arenas and stadiums in the country -- or even the world. Not only are dual mode devices (not to mention the iPod Touch) being adopted at a remarkable rate, increasing the potential user base for the service -- which is currently being offered cost-free at Mellon Arena -- but opening up the service to the mobile operators exponentially increases its potential. It also creates a consistent revenue stream -- sports fans a fanatical about their favorites and are willing to pay to enhance their experience.   Furthermore, when you talk about extending to the cellular world, the service is automatically extended to fans worldwide who cannot be in attendance at games. Displaced fans are even more likely to pay for the ability to see live feeds of their teams.   With the momentum mobile video has achieved -- despite my early doubts, which I have since retracted ­-- combined with the fanaticism of sports fans, YinzCam has the real scoring potential, especially when you consider all the other applications consumers are willing to pay for.  I'd certainly consider it for the opportunity at NY Giants games.   For the time being though, Penguins' fans can relish the opportunity to use technology to enhance their in-arena experience, as they enjoy two of the NHL's youngest and most prolific stars -- Evgeni Malkin and Sydney Crosby -- battle for the scoring title.