Video Game-Like Perspective Could Reinvent the Way We Watch Sports

Wearable cameras are poised to give sports fans a real first-person view of the action.

For the billion or so soccer fans, it’s tough to beat the thrill of watching a black-and-white checkered ball whoosh past a goalie’s outstretched arms and bend into the back of the net.

Television coverage of almost every sport has improved significantly thanks to more cameras and field sensing technologies, but what if viewers could command points-of-view live during the game, switching from a sideline view to a zooming view of what the striker sees as he fakes left past the defender to score?

Smart camera-equipped athlete uniforms currently being designed and tested are doing just that, proving that wearable tech is poised to amplify sports’ most adrenaline-soaked moments to frenzied new heights.

Jose A. Ildefonso knows the feeling and thinks it should be the new norm for sports fans.

As CEO of the Barcelona-based First V1sion, Ildefonso and his team have developed high-tech sports equipment that captures an athlete’s perspective, pulling fans right into the action like never before.

His team was among the 10 finalist in this year’s Make It Wearable Challenge from Intel.

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To the untrained eye, his formfitting prototype looks similar to an Under Armour workout shirt you’d buy at Dick’s.

However, this athletic wear is tricked out with a front-facing camera, accelerometers and a set of biometric sensors that track heart rate.

“This will introduce a new element into the game that improves the show,” Ildefonso says, speaking about how the camera and different gadgets will get you as close as humanly possible to the excitement without invading the pitch.

In the shaky-cam footage of an early First V1sion suit in action, we see the performance through the eyes of a high diver, a tennis player, a jockey riding a horse. Some of the clips look remarkably close to what you’d see when playing a video game, and this bodes well for your adrenal glands.

In video games, the world is typically shown from the point of view of the main character, what game developers call “first-person perspective.” It can stimulate pretty strong feelings of immediacy and exhilaration as a consequence.

There’s a psychological reason for this: it’s called spatial presence, and it means you begin to feel like you are there.


For anecdotal evidence, look no further than the new edition of Grand Theft Auto V, whose most significant bell and whistle is how you can espy its fictionalized Los Angeles through your character’s hostile glare.

Leaping from a plane without a parachute is a lot scarier when your brain is halfway tricked into momentarily believing it is actually happening to you, and not your game’s character. If sports could tap into this sensation, even a tiny bit, excitement levels could blow off the roof.

Even if sports broadcasts never reach that elusive dream state of being inside the game, they still have a lot to gain from tech like First V1sion, according to Ildefonso

“The most important situations [will benefit most,] including the soccer penalty kick, a basketball free throw, a tennis match point, a celebration,” he says.

“Imagine if you could see the point of view of the goalkeeper, and also the offensive player in a penalty kick. Imagine that you could see their heart rates, see who is more nervous.”

If anything, it promises to give sports fans even bigger panic attacks and emotional outbursts.

It shouldn’t be long until we start seeing more of these tech-equipped uniforms in reality. Over the summer, some National Football League teams began experimenting with full-contact helmets with cameras in them, and college football programs such as LSU and Clemson have started using them during practice.

As for the First V1sion technology, it will be getting a trial run with Spain’s Córdoba Football Club this season.

Slowly but surely, wearable technology is changing the way we look at sports … for good.

Editor’s note: Just prior to the Make It Wearable finals in November, Ildefonso and his team visited Intel Headquarters and Museum, where they captured 4K quality images and video.

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Kill Screen is a video game arts and culture company that wants to show the world why games matter. Based in Brooklyn, Kill Screen publishes a website and a magazine as well as organizes events, such as the groundbreaking Arcade at the Museum of Modern Art and Twofivesix, which Mashable called “the TED of video games.” The New Yorker called Kill Screen “the McSweeney’s of interactive media” and TIME said the writing was so “polished that they might help convince doubters that games are worth taking seriously.”


In this series, iQ looks at the many ways our perception of technology is evolving, and how technology’s ability to perceive us is shaping the future. We’ll explore innovations that pique our senses and enhance the science of seeing.


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