Latest technology shows off Masters
Few sporting events offer the majesty of colors, combined with hills, quite like a walk around Augusta National Golf Club.
Those azaleas, perfect greens, sparkling sand and hilly fairways can now be seen from your home with the latest television and virtual-reality technology.
A demonstration was held Thursday in the Masters Tournament media center of a brilliantly clear 4K television showing Amen Corner, along with an eerily real-feeling virtual reality experience from NextVR.
The 4K television is so precise that it shows Augusta National down to the blades of grass, and one can see the undulation of the course that has left many patrons telling friends, “TV doesn’t do the hills justice.”
“This is pretty realistic,” said John Ward, the senior vice president of content operations for AT&T Entertainment Group. “The thing about it is your eyes are used to seeing things a certain way. When you look on television and the myriad of ways it gets delivered, things may be a little softer, maybe a little fuzzy. It’s something we’ve become accustomed to. The 4K is so crisp and clear it’s kind of startling. It’s just a new dimension to view sports.”
This week, Masters fans with DirecTV and a 4K television can experience 4K viewing on the three holes of Amen Corner. Ward said 13 cameras with native 4K lenses are perched around Amen Corner.
“This is going to homes right now,” said Ward, whose company, which owns DirecTV, debuted a 24-7 4K channel Monday and a sports channel Wednesday.
“For somebody who isn’t able to come to the Masters, this is really trying to bring the lifelike
experience to the home,” Ward said.
That can also be said for the NextVR experience, which works with certain Samsung smartphones and its GearVR headset. The service can be used to watch a variety of live events, including sports and concerts.
“You are in the event,” said Bradford Allen, the executive chairmen of NextVR. “You are transported to wherever the cameras are.”
Allen said NextVR has already live-streamed NBA games, pro boxing, European soccer and, last month, the Big East men’s college basketball tournament.
Wednesday’s demonstration placed viewers on hole Nos. 6 and 16 of Augusta National. People testing out the goggles felt like they were about 2 feet from the
tee boxes and, basically, on the course.
“It is a stereoscopic experience,” Allen said. “As you put on the goggles and see you are able took around as if you are sitting there. It’s like nothing
before. Literally, you are there live. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.”
Allen said the current “brickphonelike” goggles cost $99 and will soon be “like wraparound glasses. Seeing is believing. One of the most difficult things is describing this to somebody. They
are like ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ You are like, ‘No, no. You have to actually see it.’”