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CES 2014 Preview: Google Glass Could Deliver 360-Degree Coverage of Live Sports Action

Wearable technology will be a big topic at the International CES, which opens Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.

Google Glass
Kyle Bastien

Imagine being at a football match with your Google Glass spectacles, complete with the ability to view not only instant replays of action produced by the broadcaster, but also dozens of perspectives of the same event recorded by fellow Glass-wearing fans ringed throughout the stadium.

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It is one scenario among many being conceived for the new era of wearable computing technology -- which will be a big focus of attention next week at the International CES -- by media companies excited by the prospect of cheap and inexpensive video creation, dissemination and display.

"We are looking at sporting use cases where we think there are some interesting possibilities for using Google Glass so that coverage of an event is not limited to the high-end multi-camera setup of the broadcaster, but widened to dozens, if not hundreds, of fans with the Glass," said Jeff Eddings, a director with Turner Broadcasting's Emerging Technologies Group. "Using Glass, you need never miss out on a referee's close call; you could review the incident from any number of perspectives almost instantly."

Eddings said his team is "actively pursuing" such ideas with companies like Switchcam.com, a Media Camp-funded software that aggregates videos from users and stitches them into video of a single event.

Others are also testing applications. For instance, tennis pro Bethanie Mattek-Sands wore Google Glass while on the practice courts at Wimbledon last spring -- part of an experiment in how Google Glass could provide as a potential training aid or a way for fans to view a match from the player's point of view.

And during the fall, basketball players at Stanford University wore Google Glass in conjunction with CrowdOptic's technology, so that fans at courtside could see the athletes’ perspective, or join a Google+ hangout.

Glass is one of a new breed of wearable technology that will figure prominently at CES. For instance, a new area is devoted to smart watches, which combine timekeeping with smart phone functions. Sales of wearable technology soared nearly 300 percent in 2012 to 8.3 million devices; one report predicts shipments of smart watches alone will reach 214 million devices with revenue of more than $60 billion by 2018.

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Google Glass embeds a camera for taking still images and video, a battery and a microphone. It operates by voice activation and is connected by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to the internet. Data and video streamed from the internet is displayed in a portion of the spectacles glass.

CNN reported early Glass users have downloaded CNN Digital's News & Topic Alerts, developed by Turner’s Emerging Technologies. It has also enabled Google Glass-wearing users of its citizen journalist service iReport. CNN weather anchor Jenny Harrison has worn the specs live on air, allowing viewers to see her work from her perspective.

French group TDF Media Services is also exploring second screen applications with its own Glass app.

"Fans in a stadium watching a soccer match could see replayed on-demand highlights in real time via their Glasses, receive data about the game or view goals as they are scored from other games in progress,” said Rami Alanko, deputy CEO Qbrick, part of the TDF Group.