by Heather Mackey

A great opening highlight reel perked up a late-afternoon crowd in the “Enabling Augmented Reality with GPU Computing” session, which showed sports broadcast moments enhanced by Sportvision augmented reality (AR). Ryan Ismert, Core Technology lead at Sportvision, took session members behind the scenes of on-air graphics such as the company’s famous NFL “1st and Ten” yellow line.

Sportvision augmented reality session at GTC

AR imposes a layer of computer graphic information onto real-world environments. If you’ve watched pro sports in North America, then you’ve seen Sportvision AR effects in action. The company – which works with ESPN, Fox, ABC, NBC, and others – is perhaps the single largest AR provider in the sports world (based on last year’s football broadcast of 106 million viewers) and provided visual effects for the NBC broadcast of the 2010 Olympics.

Ismert described how Sportvision outfits broadcast cameras with specialized hardware to capture and  process information, apply and output the effects –with a delay of only about 30 miliseconds, or, less than 3 fps. The extremely high standards for sports broadcast TV, make GPUs essential to the process. Joking that what his talk was becoming a “shameless shill” for NVIDIA Quadro, Ismert showed a production pipeline slide in which the only aspect not touched by GPUs was the camera data itself.

Looking ahead, Ismert discussed how GPUs will allow AR to spread pervasively to smartphones and other mobile devices. Already, some of this technology is in the works, and Ismert predicted it won’t be long before fans in stadiums will be able to get enhanced views and video replays delivered directly to their phones.