New 3D hologram technology projects soccer games on your kitchen table

Millions of people will watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup this week on TVs and computers. But new technology suggests the next World Cup might be watched through 3D holograms.


As the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off today in Russia, millions of people around the world will watch the matches on their TVs, computers, and smartphones. But what if you could watch it on your kitchen table in the form of a 3D hologram?

That was the goal of a recent project between researchers from the University of Washington, Facebook, and Google. The team developed a first-of-its-kind deep learning-based system that was able to transform videos of a soccer game into a “moving 3D reconstruction, in which the players and field can be rendered interactively with a 3D viewer or through an Augmented Reality device.”

Past experiments have shown it’s possible to reconstruct, say, a soccer match in a 3D hologram by outfitting the field with many high-tech cameras. But that’s expensive and difficult. That’s why the researchers set out to accomplish the same thing by using only a single YouTube video to reconstruct the soccer game in 3D.


Stills from video game converted into 3D imagery

 

First, the team had to train something called a convolutional neural network, a type of A.I. algorithm commonly used to analyze and produce visual imagery. The researchers decided to use soccer video games: They showed the network 12,000 2D images from FIFA games and fed it data sent between the GPU and game engine. This helped the neural network create a depth map from which a hologram could be created.

“FIFA, similar to most games, uses deferred shading during gameplay,” the team wrote. “Having access to the GPU calls enables capture of the depth and color buffers per frame. Once depth and color are captured for a given frame, we process it to extract the players.”

The next step was to try rendering 3D holograms from real-life soccer matches on YouTube. The results were impressive.


Stills from real-life soccer games converted into 3D imagery

But there are still kinks to work out: the hologram didn’t reproduce a moving ball, its image quality was somewhat low compared to the 4k-resolution source videos, it wasn’t produced in real time, and it could only be viewed from one side of the field.

Still, it's possible researchers will be able to develop the technology in time for the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in Qatar.

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less