Sony is envisioning a future — might not be that far off — where virtual reality will drastically change how live events are spectated or streamed.
According to a recently filed patent, instead of attending in person or streaming through mobile devices, desktops, consoles and such, users will become virtual spectators through their virtual reality headsets. What Sony proposes here is to use multiple cameras to digitize the real venue into a virtual one, complete with seats for each virtual spectator. Hence, users will still be attending a live event in a manner of speaking and be able to interact with others.
The real technology feat here though, will be to map the entire venue for a seamless experience. Sony states that certain “video processing parameters” can be utilized to stitch multiple feeds from the aforementioned stationed cameras to provide a singular view of the entire venue from the perspective of the user.
A method is provided [to] receive a request to spectate a live event through a head-mounted display by a virtual reality spectator; assignment the virtual reality spectator to a seat in a venue in which the live event takes place; receiving a plurality of video feeds from a plurality of cameras positioned in the venue; accessing video processing parameters that are stored in association with the seat; using the video processing parameters to select and stitch selected ones of the video feeds to generate a composite video that provides a view of the venue from a perspective that is substantially defined by a 3D location of the seat in the venue.
The timing of the patent from Sony is pretty coincidental. COVID-19 has forced the entire world to come to a halt. Public gatherings have been prohibited, which in turn has meant the cancellation of several events in the past few months.
E3 2020, for example, has been cancelled with the organizer currently trying to host a digital event instead. With E3 2020 out of the picture, several companies like Microsoft have gone online to make announcements themselves that were previously being kept for the annual trade show. Sony, though, has been taking it slow, virtual reality or not.