Major League Baseball launching augmented reality app in 2018

Starting next year, it may not just be peanuts and Cracker Jacks that are associated with baseball America’s national pastime. It may also be augmented reality.

In an attempt to woo new and younger viewers, Major League Baseball is building augmented reality into its live statistics application, which will overlay three-dimensional graphics on top of real-life view.

Major League Baseball reportedly demonstrated its prototype at a San Francisco Giants game last week in front of a gaggle of reporters. Its plan is to launch AR into its popular “At Bat” app by 2018.

Using Apple’s ARKit augmented reality platform, the new app will allow ballpark attendees to point their iPhone and iPad to the field and get real-time information about the players, their statistics and other relevant numbers.

“We want this to be fun for fans in the stands, to tell them something new about the game they can’t see on the scoreboard or have to search hard for,” said Chad Evans, a mobile product executive with MLB Advanced Media, to CNET.

The prototype got a sneak peek during Apple’s special event earlier this month, when Apple executive Phil Schiller spoke about ARKit coming to iOS 11.

The real-time information will be relayed by Statcast, MLB’s in-house analytics tool, and will be available in all 30 MLB ballparks. Beyond the basic information like a pitcher’s Earned Runs In or a batter’s home run statistics, Statcast will relay sabermetric numbers and other minutiae, such as launch angle and exit velocity for batted balls.

MLB reps have already tested AR in three California ballparks — Dodgers Stadium, Oakland Coliseum and AT&T Park.

“The whole design of the mechanism was to continue to extend the digital data elements on there, so as we crack the nut of what to show and when to inform the fan, it’s not hitting him over the head with data but actually providing some insight,’’ said Greg Cain, vice president of baseball data at MLBAM, to USA Today. “We don’t want to get in the way of the life action on the field.”

Photo: Streamers shoot out over the ballpark after the national anthem is performed during home opening day pregame ceremonies at AT&T Park Monday, April 10, 2017, in San Francisco. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)


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