Sports technology company OZ Sports is working with a club on a pilot project of its new OZ Arena product, stating that it has received an “incredibly positive” response from the sports industry since it was unveiled earlier this month.

OZ Sports has teamed up with visual content studio RVX Productions for the venture, which is designed to enhance the viewing experience of sports events played out in empty stadia or arenas during COVID-19.

Gudjon Gudjonsson, CEO of OZ Sports, told TheStadiumBusiness.com: “The reaction to the OZ Arena announcement has been incredibly positive. We have seen coverage generated from around the world, with lots of great responses from sporting federations, clubs and broadcasters.

“We are in current conversations with leagues and broadcasters, and have a pilot club that we are working with, but unfortunately we can’t directly divulge who these are at this stage.”

OZ Sports is headquartered in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, but also has offices in London, Central America, Florida and India. It has worked with a range of leading sports agencies and federations, including the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the Polish Ekstraklasa, IMG, Lagardère Sports and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

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 a stadium or augment spectators into existing empty venues.

Commenting on the potential wider use of OZ Arena in the sports market, Gudjonsson said: “This is not only for football. In fact, for every stadium-based sport it is a very appealing form of technology. It could even be used in motorsport.

“To support a new league we work very closely with their IT and technical department to gather CAD models from all the stadiums, and then we make the support for it so that we not only have the online technology for the virtual ticketing, so you can select your seat, but also get the full orientation of the stadiums.

“There is usually a long first time set up at a new stadium, and we’re always optimising this process. We could do that for ice hockey, tennis, basketball etc.”

OZ Arena is designed to ensure live sport in the COVID-19 era can present as exciting a viewing experience as possible, with OZ Sports taking inspiration from presentation techniques employed in the esports market.

“In gaming, there are a range of innovations happening to represent more integrated game stats and interactions with the viewers,” Gudjonsson said. “OZ Sports has been inspired by this whole feature set of mixing reality with real-time computer graphics that currently only exists in the most advanced computer games.

“This includes bringing human-controlled avatars into the existing live broadcast for physical sporting events. This is only the beginning of a new exciting journey for us.”

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

Regarding the technical challenges involved in deploying OZ Arena in a stadium, Gudjonsson adds: “Our job is to keep this simple for the broadcaster and the club.

“The preparation process is one of the most important parts as we need to get access to necessary footage, assets and stadium CAD drawings. This is a preparation process that is mostly required just once per stadium within a league. During match day the process is mostly controlled remotely by the OZ Sports team.”

Image: OZ Sports