The Chicago Bulls’ United Center was AT&T’s first 5G-connected NBA venue, with the technology making its on-court debut during last year’s All Stars Weekend. Now, the carrier is playing up its augmented reality chops with a new AR capability called StatsZone within the Chicago Bulls’ mobile application which visualizes player statistics.
“With the United Center not currently hosting fans, we’ve been focused on building at-home experiences around gamedays, and StatsZone is a really innovative use of AR technology to bring our fans closer to the action and provide them with cool personalized content around the players and stats that they care most about. We can’t wait to get this feature into the hands of our fans,” said Dan Moriarty, Chicago Bulls senior director of digital, in a statement.
“Fans can use the app to see any statistics they want to see in AR and 3D,” said Glenn Couper, AVP of AT&T 5G product and innovation, in a video about StatZone. “They can customize it. They can pick which players, which statistics they want to see — blocked shots, three pointers. As the shots are being made, 3D animations will be showing where those shots are coming from and updating the play-by-play.”
In its debut version, StatsZone will enable fans to customize and rearrange their desired statistics at any time during the live game or after, and check stats for Bulls games going back five years. AT&T is working with both the Bulls and extended-reality creative specialist Nexus Studios on StatsZone and said that it will “continue to develop potential future iterations which could include giving fans the ability to link to their fantasy team manager.” Later this year, the carrier plans to add photo and video captures of favorite players to the app, both on the device and via in-venue 5G.
AT&T StatsZone doesn’t require a 5G device or network to run, an AT&T spokesman confirmed, but 5G connectivity does enable faster downloads of the interactive data.
Using 5G in large venues to augment live sports and entertainment experiences has been one of the initial focus points for introducing the technology to consumers and figuring out monetization strategies. While such events have been disrupted by the global pandemic, carriers have nonetheless forged ahead with equipping large venues with 5G networks. Verizon has touted its 5G-enabled fan experiences at the Super Bowl and has also highlighted the combination of 5G and MEC to support applications such as ShotTracker, which uses data from sensors on players, in basketballs and around the arena to create an “indoor GPS”, with the positional data running through algorithms to give real-time statistics.