Latest VR technology offers interactive, multi-angle viewing experience for Beijing Winter Olympics

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The "Experience Beijing" national ice hockey test event began Monday at the Wukesong Sports Center in China's capital city, marking another step forward in the run-up to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games scheduled for February. The event was an opportunity to test a newly upgraded live VR broadcasting technology, which offers a multi-dimensional viewing experience for audiences both here and abroad. 

Walking into the inner ring corridor of the Wukesong Sports Center Competition Hall, a total of 60 cameras are hoisted along a 180-degree bend below the venue's ring screen, with three spherical cameras "ambushed" among the seats. Together, they make up the live VR broadcasting equipment that will bring an unprecedented viewing experience to Olympic audiences. 

The project, led by Peking University, was specifically developed for the unique characteristics of ice and snow sports.

The 60 cameras boast 5G+8K technologies, and the VR cameras are able to capture 11K-resolution footage. Viewers can catch every exciting moment from the Games in real-time through the 180-degree free-viewing angle immersive live broadcast.

Traditionally, sports broadcasters set up multiple cameras in an arena, which are connected to broadcasting vehicles with cables. A director is then responsible for selecting between different cameras and cutting the multiple signals into one channel for broadcasting.

"With the development of 5G technology and the internet, it has become possible for the audience to watch games 'actively,'" said Yuan Yinhui, broadcast manager of the venue operation team at Wukesong Sports Center. 

In other words, viewers assume the role of director, freely choosing the content and angles they are interested in through various platforms including mobile phones, VR helmets and televisions, breaking the limitations of traditional fixed viewing angles.

Yuan said that the live test results from the first day were very satisfactory.

According to Li Xufeng, a technician, through three-dimensional reconstruction and rendering technologies, the project has realized user interactivity and continuous free-viewpoint video generation and transmission.

Li said that the technology allows audiences to see more clearly and get a more real experience, culminating in a greater excitement for the Games.

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