The Critical 'I'

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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

A "TIVO" FOR SPORTS
It's not easy being a sports addict AND a working man. Not when NHL playoff games go into perpetual overtime that can extend to the wee morning hours. I'm all for sleep deprivation, but eventually, you've got to turn off the TV and get some sack time.

Take last night, for instance. I wanted to stay up to watch the outcome of the Detroit-Calgary game, but didn't want to do the zombie routine the next day at the office (at deadline time, yet). So I had to go to bed wondering whether or not the Wings managed to survive. (They didn't.)

What to do? Say hello to Sharp Labs' HiMPACT Sports game compression technology. This video analysis software can detect every "action" moment during a game--a baseball pitch, a football sack, a hockey goal--and filters out all the extraneous stuff, thus delivering a tight package of game highlights practically in real time. You can get in a three-hour game in less than an hour.

I don't have a particular demand to cram in all my sports viewing into a shorter perid of time; I usually enjoy the ebb and flow of a full game broadcast. But I can see how this could come in handy on "school nights". Besides, I like the mindset behind all this:
"We're trying to give the possibility to users to concentrate on what they prefer," says Ibrahim Sezan, director of information systems technologies at Sharp Labs. "We want to allow people to consume more sports because there is an insatiable appetite for sports."
Insatiable, that's right! Preach it, brother!

Poynter's Steve Klein has some compelling ideas for commercial application of this tool:
[P]otential markets could include broadcasters, who could use it to pull game highlights automatically for sports and news programs, something video editors now do. Websites, or cable and satellite television services, could sell mini-games to sleepy subscribers like me. It could even be integrated into hard-drive digital video recorders.
I like the idea of mini-games for purchase, seems like a natural for cable/satellite providers to push. And the integration of this technology with DVRs would be neat; I'd like to say it would be a killer app to spur sales of the units, but I don't think it's necessary, as adoption is proceeding without the help of a sports hook.