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Intel touts 3D tech for football nuts

OradNet provides the software

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Intel has partnered with sports software developer OradNet to create technology designed to enable football obsessives to immerse themselves in realistic versions of key matches online.

TOPlay Soccer, which will be licensed to sports Web sites, creates an interactive 3-D graphics representation of actual football matches that can be viewed by fans online.

This means surfers to sports sites can control how they view a soccer match, for example by allowing them to watch the game through the eyes of a particular player or view replays in slow motion from any angle.

In return for access to virtual replay technology that can settle arguments about whether a goal was scored or not fans might pay to view matches or subscribe to online sites. Intel is also promoting the ability of the application to build in links to ecommerce systems.

For example this would allow a fan to click on a player, say England's Geoff Hurst, and then buy a replica of the great man's jersey online.

Incidentally we're told that the technology has found that England third goal in the 1966 World Cup Final was correctly awarded, though this is very unlikely to settle that argument. But we digress.

To create the immersive 3D images for TOPlay Soccer, a football match is analysed using proprietary tracking technology from OradNet, whose clients include Sky Sports.

At the moment this data takes some hours to turn around on a Silicon Graphics workstation but the hope is to develop animations in something closer to real time so that they would be quickly available on sites after a game finishes. It's also planned to extend the technology to other sports, such as horse racing and American football.

TOPlay production suite then uses Intel Interactive Sports software to 'translate' the tracking data of the game into an XML database that contains player and ball movements as well as other data, such as goals.

The XML database, which can be searched to locate (for example) clips of goals by a particular player, is then used by the TOPlay application to create Web-based 3D animations of the game as well as game statistics.

Games are displayed on sites using Intel's Internet 3-D Graphics technology, which Intel and Macromedia recently announced as a part of the new Macromedia Director and Shockwave Player products. This is designed to produce and render 3-D graphics on Web sites even if access is made using a standard 56Kbps modem.

The technology is optimised for Intel's Pentium 4 processor, and graphics quality on slower-speed processors will be noticeably poorer. As such Intel hopes the interactive sports application will allow it to showcase the improved graphics capabilities of the Pentium 4.

TOPlay Soccer is available for download from April 30 from here. ®

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