Google Glass to Give Insider View of NBA Game

Video from Kings’ Center Jason Thompson shows teammates revving up for a game.

After hearing that a San Diego developer was hauled into court last week for wearing Google Glass while driving, even Google Glass fans might hesitate to wear them at work.

Members of the Sacramento Kings will be doing just that on Jan. 24, in order to give fans a closer view of the game.

Google Glass will give fans an insider’s point-of-view from the sidelines only, however, with some players wearing the augmented-reality goggles while sitting on the bench; cheerleaders, announcers and the team mascot will also wear them while doing their thing during the game.

It is possible that the NBA will eventually license games shot using Google Glass or other wearables, according to remarks NBA commissioner David Stern made to a sports-industry conference Jan. 16 in London. But with the Kings game, the Google Glasses will be around the court rather than on it.

That’s just fine with CrowdOptics, a San Francisco startup that specializes in creating virtual group experiences using photos and video shot by members of a crowd and in selling information about what members of a crowd are looking at, when and for how long by analyzing data shot by smartphones and tablets as well as augmented reality goggles like Google Glass.

Among CrowdOptic’s previous products is Friend Spotter, an app designed to show users where a Facebook friend is in otherwise search-resistant crowds by using location data in each user’s device, back-end video analytics and connections to Facebook contact lists.

Its current focus is creating shared experiences by combining crowdsourced photos and videos of events to give potentially hundreds of points-of-view of an event that might otherwise be viewable only through the dozen or so professional-quality, often automated and remote-controlled cameras at courtside, behind the backboards, and other hot spots chosen by broadcast networks.

Crowdsourcing video coverage of a professional sports event is likely to be less controversial than doing the same at less public events, such as at professional conferences, or large but ostensibly closed meetings for corporate stockholders or employees.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 16, a judge dismissed charges against developer Cecilia Abadie for wearing Google Glass while driving, but did so because the ticket was based on a law to prevent people from watching TV while driving, and there was no way to prove whether her glasses were turned on at the time. Neither the charge nor the acquittal addressed whether augmented-reality goggles are legal to wear while driving (or doing anything else).

Wearables, especially augmented- or virtual-reality images from remote cameras, are likely to be the focus of arguments about everything from corporate secrets and security to privacy and the copyright on imagery of sporting events. Google Glass and similar devices make it so easy to shoot and upload video of “private” events that it will be hard to know what might go online, and might make it difficult for companies to comply with federal regulations about disclosure of sensitive information, if sensitive documents and employees wearing Google Glass are ever in the same room at the same time, according to a slew of recent legal analyses.

“The fun is only starting,” in the process of defining the rules of where and when video-capable wearables are welcome, who is allowed to view those images and under what circumstances, according to an ABC News story quoting Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford Law School who studies similar issues.

 

Image: CrowdOptic/NBA