Google Glass adopters give sports fans closer look at action

By JAY COHEN, Associated Press Published: July 1, 2014
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Your favorite team is playing for the title, and you are in the middle of the field. You have a ticket in the very top row for an NBA playoff game, and a courtside seat. The referees are reviewing a big play in the final seconds, and you are right there in front of them.

Google Glass is slowly becoming more common in sports as teams and broadcasters try to bring fans closer to the action. The Philadelphia Eagles are going to test the Internet-connected eyewear for in-game use, and a company with a key application for the technology says it has secured a new round of financing that will help roll out its Glass program to sports, entertainment and other fields.

“When I talk to teams and ask them about what technology are they looking at, what technology are they keeping track of, the two answers I mostly commonly get are Google Glass and Snapchat,” said Eric Fernandez, a founder and managing partner of SportsDesk Media, a fan analytics and digital media activation company.

The futuristic eyewear was known as “Project Glass” when it was introduced by Google in a video and blog post in April 2012. The Mountain View, California, company started selling the $1,500 glasses to a select crowd later that same year, but it only recently became available to the general public.

“I think the fan experience one is the one that’s really hitting hard,” said Eric Johnsen, the business development lead for Glass at Work, “and the performance line people are dabbling with, that’s really interesting.”

Punter Chris Kluwe used the eyewear in training camp last year to take fans inside an Oakland Raiders practice. Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate wore the glasses at Super Bowl media day. Roger Federer used one when he hit with former tennis star Stefan Edberg during a visit to Google’s campus, and a referee at the recent USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship donned the glasses for the NBC Sports broadcast.

But it is the big-picture applications that offer intriguing possibilities for teams and leagues concerned about attendance in the 21st century, when flat-screen TVs and rising prices at sporting events have made the in-home experience even more appealing.

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