Shotlink, Hololens and new apps
Throughout the coming weeks we will present insights into the new technologies that were deployed for THE PLAYERS Championship 2016. Many of these will become part of our weekly events and digital operations. Some of these efforts are pre-cursors to exploration of new technology platforms that fans will use in the future to follow the sport.
Tournament Companion Application
As we started our relationship with Microsoft earlier this year, one of our key initiatives was to bring fans a unique experience on the Windows 10 platforms. The first project in this area was building out a new app for the Surface that fans could use in tournament hospitality spaces. Using the Shotlink Scoring System, powered by CDW, the Tournament Companion application gives fans a view of the play and the players that they are watching on site. The views in the app not only include our standard leaderboards, they also include new creative looks for stats and shot trails. One particular new feature is the performance bubble chart that lets fans quickly see the skill areas a player is excelling in based on his strokes gained data. It was interesting to watch fans interact with the new app on Surfaces all week in hospitality and on a giant new Microsoft Surface Hub in Stadium Village.
The Tournament Companion app is the foundation for our next step on the Windows 10 platform. In the coming weeks we will begin the build out of a new Universal Windows app that will use what we have learned over the past several weeks. This new application will be available to all fans in the near future.
Volunteer Shotlink Application Device Updates
Another effort we have undertaken with Microsoft is to start migrating the devices our volunteers use to track players around the course. The volunteers play a key role in the ShotLink system by following every player’s shots around the course. In order to track these shots the volunteer teams use a selection of devices to record and note attributes such as ball position and length of a drive. Applications were built to run on Microsoft Lumia devices for the walking scorers and laser operators. Another application was built to support our greenside volunteers that runs on the Surface Pro 4 devices. This app will help validate ball position on the green. All of these devices had to be ruggedized to accommodate the variety of weather conditions we experience throughout the season. The Shotlink team has started to test these devices over the last several events. As we complete the testing you will begin to see our volunteers throughout events using these new applications.
As we look at how fans may experience watching golf three to five years out, our teams are exploring a variety of technologies. Earlier this year we had an opportunity to go to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA to see a demo of the Microsoft Hololens. The Hololens is a mixed-reality experience that uses holograms and a variety of graphics for presentation. Using a Hololens is different from a VR experience in that you have a field of view to the spaces around you. After spending a morning in the Hololens lab we were pretty excited about the possibilities the device may present in the future. Working with Microsoft and Taqtile, a Hololens demonstration was created using 3D modeling data of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, ShotLink data, and Bing mapping data. The resulting app was demonstrated to staff here at PGA TOUR Headquarters and a few attendees during the event last week.
Once the Hololens was on, you had the opportunity to look at a three-dimensional version of the entire course complete with the clubhouse, trees, and shot trails from several players using data from past events. You could zoom across the course to any hole and see greater detail the closer you got to the hologram. The demonstration is hard to explain. It is best seen through the pictures and videos below.
The Hololens presents interesting possibilities for the future of our sport. In the not too distant future fans may wear it or a similar device while watching the telecast and be able to see a hologram of the hole, stats and shot trails surrounding their TV. For the business of the sport it will give course builders and event planners a way to see changes in the course or where a hospitality tent may fit best from a first person point of view without have to be on the property.
Look for more here in the coming months as we continue to explore Hololens and other emerging platforms.