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Condense Reality and BT collaborating on 3D hologram technology

New solution in development to enable sports broadcasters to capture and stream real-time volumetric video.

by Ed Dixon

Condense Reality and BT collaborating on 3D hologram technology
  • Broadcasters can stream content to viewers via their own AR or VR headset
  • Footage runs alongside traditional TV coverage

Virtual reality (VR) startup Condense Reality has developed a new system for streaming hologram-style 3D volumetric video, allowing viewers to watch live sports events on their tabletop alongside traditional broadcasts.

Having raised a seed round of more than UK£800,000 (US$1.03 million), including UK£220,000 (US$284,000) from SFC Capital, Condense Reality will use the investment to further develop and commercialise its technology over the next 12 months, with a view to it being adopted by broadcasters.

Condense Reality has been working with BT Research, the research arm of telecommunications giant BT, as well as the likes of the University of Bristol on the project, backed by the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The collaboration has focused on BT’s 5G Edge XR trial, which demonstrated the potential of 5G technology to deliver more immersive live sport viewing experiences through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

An image released by BT has already teased the technology’s potential for boxing, but there are hopes to develop it for use across other sports by broadcasters.  

The startup’s offering represents a major step forward in capturing volumetric video, which creates a three-dimensional image that can be viewed by multiple people from different angles. Until now, getting the video required fixed studios with green screens and hundreds of precisely-calibrated cameras. Processing minutes of content for streaming also took days.

Condense Reality says its solution enables broadcasters and content creators to capture and stream volumetric video in real time, outside a studio, and with fewer cameras. 

Its Condense Reality Capture platform uses state-of-the-art computer vision and deep learning to accurately reconstruct the contents of a scene in seconds, while Condense Reality Stream allows broadcasters to stream that content to viewers via their own AR or VR headsets – including Oculus, Vive, Microsoft Hololens, and Magic Leap.  

The multi-platform Condense Reality Playback app also gives viewers control of their experience through an ‘intuitive 3D user interface’.

“Our technology aims to bridge real and virtual worlds by enabling broadcasters to record live events as volumetric video and instantly stream them to viewers,” said Condense Reality chief executive and co-founder Nick Fellingham. 

“Our initial focus has been on recording sports, in particular boxing, so to be working on this project with BT, one of the biggest boxing broadcasters in the world, is a huge opportunity.  

“At a time when many sporting events cannot be viewed in stadiums, enhancing the communal viewing experience in the comfort of your own home is more timely than ever.”  

Given BT’s current involvement in the project, should its pay-TV BT Sport network use the technology, it would mark another first for the broadcaster. In September last year, it delivered the first live broadcast in 4K High Dynamic (4K HDR) and Dolby Atmos sound for a Premier League game between Liverpool and Newcastle United.