Chris Kluwe: How augmented reality will change sports … and build empathy

Chris Kluwe: How augmented reality will change sports … and build empathy


What do augmented reality and professional football have to do with empathy? And what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow? Now unfortunately, I’m only going to answer one of those questions today, so please, try and contain your disappointment. When most people think about augmented reality, they think about “Minority Report” and Tom Cruise waving his hands in the air, but augmented reality is not science fiction. Augmented reality is something that will happen in our lifetime, and it will happen because we have the tools to make it happen, and people need to be aware of that, because augmented reality will change our lives just as much as the Internet and the cell phone. Now how do we get to augmented reality? Step one is the step I’m wearing right now, Google Glass. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Google Glass. What you may not be familiar with is that Google Glass is a device that will allow you to see what I see. It will allow you to experience what it is like to be a professional athlete on the field. Right now, the only way you can be on the field is for me to try and describe it to you. I have to use words. I have to create a framework that you then fill in with your imagination. With Google Glass, we can put that underneath a helmet, and we can get a sense of what it’s like to be running down the field at 100 miles an hour, your blood pounding in your ears. You can get a sense of what it’s like to have a 250-pound man sprinting at you trying to decapitate you with every ounce of his being. And I’ve been on the receiving end of that, and it doesn’t feel very good. Now, I have some footage to show you of what it’s like to wear Google Glass underneath the helmet to give you a taste of that. Unfortunately, it’s not NFL practice footage because the NFL thinks emergent technology is what happens when a submarine surfaces, but — (Laughter) — we do what we can. So let’s pull up some video. (Video) Chris Kluwe: Go. Ugh, getting tackled sucks. Hold on, let’s get a little closer. All right, ready? Go! Chris Kluwe: So as you can see, small taste of what it’s like to get tackled on the football field from the perspective of the tacklee. Now, you may have noticed there are some people missing there: the rest of the team. We have some video of that courtesy of the University of Washington. (Video) Quarterback: Hey, Mice 54! Mice 54! Blue 8! Blue 8! Go! Oh! CK: So again, this takes you a little bit closer to what it’s like to be on that field, but this is nowhere what it’s like to be on the NFL. Fans want that experience. Fans want to be on that field. They want to be their favorite players, and they’ve already talked to me on YouTube, they’ve talked to me on Twitter, saying, “Hey, can you get this on a quarterback? Can you get this on a running back? We want that experience.” Well, once we have that experience with GoPro and Google Glass, how do we make it more immersive? How do we take that next step? Well, we take that step by going to something called the Oculus Rift, which I’m sure many of you are also familiar with. The Oculus Rift has been described as one of the most realistic virtual reality devices ever created, and that is not empty hype. I’m going to show you why that is not empty hype with this video. (Video) Man: Oh! Oh! No! No! No! I don’t want to play anymore! No! Oh my God! Aaaah! CK: So that is the experience of a man on a roller coaster in fear of his life. What do you think that fan’s experience is going to be when we take the video footage of an Adrian Peterson bursting through the line, shedding a tackler with a stiff-arm before sprinting in for a touchdown? What do you think that fan’s experience is going to be when he’s Messi sprinting down the pitch putting the ball in the back of the net, or Federer serving in Wimbledon? What do you think his experience is going to be when he is going down the side of a mountain at over 70 miles an hour as an Olympic downhill skier? I think adult diaper sales may surge. (Laughter) But this is not yet augmented reality. This is only virtual reality, V.R. How do we get to augmented reality, A.R.? We get to augmented reality when coaches and managers and owners look at this information streaming in that people want to see, and they say, “How do we use this to make our teams better? How do we use this to win games?” Because teams always use technology to win games. They like winning. It makes them money. So a brief history of technology in the NFL. In 1965, the Baltimore Colts put a wristband on their quarterback to allow him to call plays quicker. They ended up winning a Super Bowl that year. Other teams followed suit. More people watched the game
because it was more exciting. It was faster. In 1994, the NFL put helmet radios into the helmets of the quarterbacks, and later the defense. More people watched games because it was faster. It was more entertaining. In 2023, imagine you’re a player walking back to the huddle, and you have your next play displayed right in front of your face on your clear plastic visor that you already wear right now. No more having to worry about forgetting plays. No more worrying about having
to memorize your playbook. You just go out and react. And coaches really want this, because missed assignments lose you games, and coaches hate losing games. Losing games gets you fired as a coach. They don’t want that. But augmented reality is not just an enhanced playbook. Augmented reality is also a way to take all that data and use it in real time to enhance how you play the game. What would that be like? Well, a very simple setup would be a camera on each corner of the stadium looking down, giving you a bird’s-eye view of all the people down there. You also have information from helmet sensors and accelerometers, technology that’s being worked on right now. You take all that information,
and you stream it to your players. The good teams stream it in a
way that the players can use. The bad ones have information overload. That determines good teams from bad. And now, your I.T. department is just as important as your scouting department, and data-mining is not for nerds anymore. It’s also for jocks. Who knew? What would that look like on the field? Well, imagine you’re the quarterback. You take the snap and you drop back. You’re scanning downfield for an open receiver. All of a sudden, a bright flash on the left side of your visor lets you know, blind side linebacker is blitzing in. Normally, you wouldn’t be able to see him, but the augmented reality system lets you know. You step up into the pocket. Another flash alerts you to an open receiver. You throw the ball, but you’re hit right as you throw. The ball comes off track. You don’t know where it’s going to land. However, on the receiver’s visor, he sees a patch of grass light up, and he knows to readjust. He goes, catches the ball, sprints in, touchdown. Crowd goes wild, and the fans are with him every step of the way, watching from every perspective. Now this is something that will create massive excitement in the game. It will make tons of people watch, because people want this experience. Fans want to be on the field. They want to be their favorite player. Augmented reality will be a part of sports, because it’s too profitable not to. But the question I ask you is, is that’s all that we’re content
to use augmented reality for? Are we going to use it solely for our panem, our circenses, our entertainment as normal? Because I believe that we can use augmented reality for something more. I believe we can use augmented reality as a way to foster more empathy within the human species itself, by literally showing someone what it looks like to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. We know what this technology is worth to sports leagues. It’s worth revenue, to the tune
of billions of dollars a year. But what is this technology worth to a teacher in a classroom trying to show a bully just how harmful his actions are from the perspective of the victim? What is this technology worth to a gay Ugandan or Russian trying to show the world what it’s like living under persecution? What is this technology worth to a Commander Hadfield or a Neil deGrasse Tyson trying to inspire a generation of children to think more about space and science instead of quarterly reports and Kardashians? Ladies and gentlemen, augmented reality is coming. The questions we ask, the choices we make, and the challenges we face are, as always, up to us. Thank you. (Applause)

99 Replies to “Chris Kluwe: How augmented reality will change sports … and build empathy”

  1. If both teams had equal access to this technology and to all the information needed to completely read the game, wouldn't that destroy the game? I think it would be like telling your opponent the next punch you are planning to make in a boxing fight. If your opponent acts rationally he is going to block your punch. And so on. = boring?

  2. Lame. The same thing can be achieved with a helmet cam. The real value of Google Glass is it's ability to overlay information over your field of vision, making the benefits of the device realized by the wearer and not by an audience.

  3. How about augmented virtual reality? When will I be able to smack people upside the head over the internet?

  4. Watching a sports game and being able to "jump" in any moment into a player's POV and see what he sees, sounds very appealing. But it needs to be backed with some serious tech, we can't have all the athletes wearing helmets, glasses and whatnot.

  5. They really should just do away with professional sports and make games exactly that: games people play for fun. Nothing over the college level for any sport. Instead, professional sports should be replaced by huge teams of engineers and robotics experts who build efficient robots to play these sports instead.

    Think about how much better this scenario would be instead of professional sports. For what you pay these players in the NFL or NBA, you could employ thousands of engineers and scientists to put on a show which displays the skills and innovation of each individual team's members in building the most efficient and durable machines. These sports would be much more eventful and exciting than human sports because without the concern for the well-being of the players, the possibilities are virtually endless. Imagine on Sunday afternoons sitting down and watching 10 foot tall, 2 ton steel (or even carbon fiber) behemoths playing football, which of course would have modified rules for the new players but the game would remain familiar enough to be recognizable as football. You could even have separate leagues for modified rules, such as a "weapons" league where certain games are played in which the robots can be equipped with hammers, blades, flame-throwers, grenade launchers, RPGs, etc. so a big part of the competition would be not only efficiency but building armored defensive robots.

    It may not just provide entertainment value and job opportunities but also might be the ideal solution to the problem of our bloated military industrial complex. The reason why the US is always involved in so many wars is primarily due to how insanely profitable the manufacture of weaponry is, and I have no doubt the executives of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, or Northrop Grumman sit in their offices all day thinking about how much they love making money off of the murder of innocent brown people in foreign countries. They have a one track mind which treats the geopolitical stage as an inanimate game in which they are merely trying to increase their score, which is money, and although this is not the way most wish the world worked, the problem of greed and psychopathy in business is much too deep seeded of a problem at the moment to tackle. These companies don't care who is buying the weapons they manufacture, and so if they are given a market which will provide a consistent long-term demand for weaponry, they are much less likely to oppose a push to end the constant global conflicts the US government involves itself in just to give out military contracts. 

    Overall, many of the solutions to the economic and geopolitical problems we are facing as a society can be solved by pushing to change our recreational activities. The public needs to take interest in multi-billion dollar entertainment industries which can replace the wasteful systems we have currently with industries that create huge outlets for employment opportunity and which create a drive for technological innovation. This is the society of the future.

  6. Yawn. I can't think of anything duller than watching a bunch of guys running around directed by a computer – except maybe watching it from a first person perspective.

  7. As a motorsports fan, I know exactly what he's on about. Being able to actually see what happened from essentially a driver's perspective and essentially live rather than having to wait half an hour or more to get an interview with a driver who barely remembers what hqppened anyway makes a huge difference. Now that cameras and transmission hardware have become so much smaller and lighter, putting them in athletes gear isn't something to shrug off.

  8. Entertainment sport is about pitting the blues against the reds – it's about arbitrary division not empathy.

  9. The best TED talks offer problems, possible solutions, and then get you excited about the possibility inherent in the technology, so that you spend the afternoon thinking about other problems it can solve.  
    Good Stuff.

  10. Future will tell, it will enhance the experience for sure, but the crowd might disappear from stadiums when they realize they can get the same experience from their sofas. What's the revenue from that and what will happen when the AR is better then the real reality?

  11. See what you see? All you've done is attach a tiny camera to your head. Hardly a technology revolution. I can understand what he's getting at, but it's really underwhelming.

  12. It's going to be hard for kids to think more about space and science when they're so caught up re-living the experiences of some sportsmen on a field. It seems that this is serving to further vanity and the vicarious living people are getting so accustomed to. I think Google glass can be revolutionary, and TED could do a better job in portraying it with a better idea worth spreading.

  13. Problem with VR is that there aren't real stakes involved. It's not interesting if one is merely subjected to the illusion of injury. e.g. running IRL beats running in a game anyday..

  14. Google glass..How to look like a douche while spending too much money for a device that is years behind present day capability.Did I mention nobody hears a word you said cause they can't take their minds off the fact that it looks like you got a toothbrush stuck to your head.

  15. though interesting I find that this ruins the trill of sports. When this happens what skill is still needed? 

  16. You can just strap a camera to someone's face to see from their perspective…
    I really like the idea of Oculus and Google Glass, I just feel like that was the wrong point to be focusing on when introducing them.

  17. We already have something very similar to the end product he was alluding to – they're called video games. Sports are popular with most people because they preserve the human element as paramount. I'm all for sports technology in lots in ways, for example, aiding the referees in making correct calls but there would definitely be a point at which talent, fitness, practice and hard work would become secondary to the processing power of your teams dugout. This is the point when it fails to be sport in the traditional sense which is recognisable as physical competition between 2 people/teams or an individual versus the environment such as climbing. Either way the body and it's mastery of technique and manual equipment tends to be central, not processing speeds and bandwidth.

  18. In 2014 teams brought in firearms to the court, more people watched the games, it was faster, more entertaining.

  19. I have an inkling this will not be adopted in pro sports, just as PEDs are not allowed (condoned?) either.  I don't "buy" the assertion that it's just too profitable not to adopt.

  20. The augmented reality scenario with the football seems ridiculous. It would ruin sport, take the skill out of it.

  21. More promotion for the Illuminati trans-humanism agenda (part of Agenda 21 – Google Glass and RFID tattoos are the first steps).. I'd rather stay human thanks!

  22. 'What is this technology to a gay Ugandan or Russian' of course !governments which impose criminal sanctions on homosexuality don't need to use their brains to develop their beliefs on equality, they really only need expensive technological products to show them in 1080p and at only 400$$ now that's a bargain !! Muricaaaa

  23. It is ironic to hear a lot of people in the comments espousing anti-technological progress rhetoric when they're using computers connected to the Internet to do so. They don't realize they've already consented to the future they claim to resist.

  24. All these examples of AR in sports are great, but I'd also like to see it in motorsports such as F1. A driver could get the same levels of information that you'd see on screen in a videogame and more, fuel levels, car condition in general, other driver's tactics…

  25. So the technology is basically telling the players what they need to do on the field… where the ball is. Apply this to society as a whole. Who will control the technology?

  26. The viewing experience would be kind of interesting. The real time information for the athlete would ruin almost every Sport and is complete bullshit.

  27. You don't need augmented reality for 95% of the benefits he listed, just put a GoPro in each player's helmet and you are good to go…

  28. Google glass looks ridiculous. A 12 year old could design glasses with better function and user Comfort In mind .wish google picked me up would love to work for them

  29. Taking out the human element in sport makes it crap.

    I get the part of allowing fans have a close view of the action…but allowing tech and graph help players or athletes in the midst of the action is messed.

    We have video games for that

  30. He gives the NFL too much credit. Technically, for years, they've been able to measure ball location and eliminate the need for the chain gang, but haven't.

  31. so athletes don't have to be smart in this scenario…that technology takes a big part of the game away,the human factor.you wouldn't say that everyone in the field should run at the same speed,so why do that?

  32. Thought it was going to be a very interesting talk, but was dissappointed to hear that the speaker obviously isn't from a research background and is using the term "augmented reality" at a published TED talk without having understood the term and research field.. Watching something from someone else's POV is first of all nothing new, and furthermore has nothing to do with AR.. But agreed, it would be cool though to see what the sport elites see when performing to their best! 🙂

  33. This sounds exciting, but then again ….. our creativity will completely die if we can just recreate any feeling that currently requires imagination. It sounds so dystopic, but we really are turning into robots.

  34. i see many people arguing that technology shouldnt be in sport and that t destroys competitiveness.
    but if you want to do sport go out and do it. High level commercialised sport is a different thing. I'd fucking love to see robots beat the crap out of eachother who cares about competiveness in TV sport

  35. Call it augmentation or whatever, it's still manipulation and an excellent propaganda tool. The only true reality is the one we're experiencing through our natural sensors. Are we that far gone into decay that we must need to accept propaganda-enhancing products? Any technology, no matter how advanced, if handled by madmen with bizarre motivations will end-up being a weapon. History showed it countless times and reality continues to show it everywhere around us. But the control system they're building will require some sort of mind-altering technology because otherwise people won't accept it.

  36. OK you are not being brutaly honest. Experiencing things from someone else perspective just by raw audio and video is not enough to create an emotion. Virtual reality by its own is not enough to bring the absolute emersive experience.  By just watching is not enough to be in someone else's shoe. Let's not fool ourselves, this technology on its own is not enough to give better kind of people and build a better world.

  37. This guy doesn't realise that AR can enhance our own lifes? It can do so much more than letting us see from someone else's  perspective and making sports more exciting.

  38. You will NEVER know whats its like with a camera! Americans need to get their fat butts up and stop living in a fantasy world and calling it reality.

  39. this will just make sports to boring to watch. I do the like the end, showing people how it feels like through their shoes.

  40. And yet he never clarifies that Google Glass is not AR. It doesn't have nor processing power nor large enough display to overlay information over video feed.

    As for sports.. It may draw some audience, but at the end of the day it simplifies the essence of sports. One has to rely on the information on screen and dump his instincts. By this logic anyone can play football – just follow the green marker. Besides, the machine calculating data will have its own bias.

  41. To bring that level of technology and immersion would surely ruin sport. To have something beep or flash up to tell an athlete where to run, or what to do next would render intuition, awareness and genuine talent redundant. Why would you want that?

  42. If this technology was introduced and used in the NFL it would be a much less exiting game,  defenses would immediately recognize a play, offenses wouldn't stand a chance

  43. Very interesting video! It's amazing what's possible now with tech! Although have my concerns about it in the sport I love (football), it would be very cool!

  44. Film, video, and digital media haven't made us more empathic toward each other, I doubt AR will do much more than any other form of technology.

  45. This guy does not appear to be an AR expert (football player per my web searches…and not a major one) so why the heck does Ted allow non-experts to preach?

  46. I don't like this. It takes away from the human error of sports. Which in my opinion is what makes sports sports.

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