Sports technology company OZ Sports has teamed up with visual content studio RVX Productions to launch a new product designed to enhance the viewing experience of sports events played out in empty stadia or arenas during COVID-19.

OZ Arena, which also integrates into the wider OZ Connected Stadium platform, has been targeted at football and allows spectators to be dynamically added to live broadcasts with the use of advanced augmented reality (AR) technology. Fans can pick their avatar, club’s shirt, have their face painted, and even appear in the stadium in their favourite seat.

Fans can also get their voice heard, by participating as either audio-only or with immersive visual participation in a live broadcast. OZ Arena tech can either completely replace the stadium or augment spectators into existing empty venues.

The process is added to each camera feed in the workflow opening up support for multi-camera processing. OZ Arena has advanced audio support, where fans can use an app to add live audio to the broadcast.

The servers aggregate all fan audio, using low-latency time synchronisation and AI algorithms, to manage volume levels, enabling fans to yell as loudly as they like remotely, without overpowering the audio stream. These solutions are designed to enable broadcasts to maintain full integrity and sound effects during fan-free games.

OZ Sports is headquartered in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, but also has offices in London, Central America, Florida and India. Gudjon Gudjonsson, CEO of OZ Sports, said: “Due to Coronavirus, we will see more games played behind closed doors with bans on large-scale public events.

“It is our job to keep the experience as exciting as during the non-pandemic world. We do that by learning from esports, bringing new exciting elements into the real-world broadcasts. Our augmentation filters can be customised based on the branding strategy and the creative plan of the league.

“The idea is to protect the integrity and experience of the game, by turning the attention away from the empty stadium, and instead replacing it with appealing surroundings to make the game more interesting, and as close to reality as possible. These are times to explore and experiment, to make sport even more appealing and to bring it closer to the latest developments in esports.”

The OZ Arena solution can be applied to live production as a per-match service. It supports both audio-only and the full immersive audio-visual solution. The OZ Arena system is an integrated part of OZ Connected Stadium, and can also be installed at a broadcaster’s facility, OB truck, or at the stadium.

Dadi Einarsson, CEO of RVX, added: “We have brought world-class visual artists, 3D developers and technologists, with a range of honours and awards – including numerous Emmys, VES and D&AD Awards.

“The team for this solution has previously delivered visual effects for blockbuster films, TV, video games and VR projects including Everest, Gravity, The OA, 2 Guns and Sherlock Holmes. Our experience with AAA quality visuals coupled with cutting edge AI and AR solutions put us in the perfect spot.”