It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh as the Penguins battle for the Stanley Cup. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon are as excited about the game as they are about fans using their new "YinzCam" technology.
Fans inside the Mellon Arena can access YinzCam from their WiFi-enabled device and use it to watch the action from unique camera angles such as Bench Cam, Penalty Box Cam and Goalie Cam. There's even a Crosby Cam and a Malkin Cam, which allow fans to follow two of their favorite players, as well as options to get instant replays from different camera angles seconds after the action takes place.
"Hockey moves really, really fast, and you want to catch every second of the game," explained Priya Narasimhan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who made the project part of her capstone course on Embedded Systems Design. "Even if you have excellent seats right up against the glass, when the action is on the other side of the arena you no longer have the best seats in the house."
Dave Soltesz, the Pittsburgh Penguins' senior vice-president of sales, said the YinzCam can really elevate a fan's experience at the game.
"Replays of great plays or goals appear within five seconds, with the ability to program your own replay with either 20 seconds or 2 minutes of content," he said. "There is no similar WiFi-streaming product in professional sports that delivers live-streaming content."
At times, Soltesz said, the project involved as many as 12 Carnegie Mellon students working in collaboration with Pittsburgh Penguins employees.
"The students came to us with a concept and a 'toy,' and collectively, we created one of the most powerful fan experiences in professional sports," he said. "If anyone would challenge the creativity, work ethic or knowledge of the next generation, I would advise them to work with this group and they would understand how solid our future is."
Narasimhan said her students' passion for the Pens was her inspiration for the project. "The students are amazing," she said. "And they and I are big fans, so this is a really big deal for them."
Rajeev Gandhi, another Carnegie Mellon faculty member working on YinzCam added, “The opportunity to use Mellon Arena as our live testbed is unprecedented. Dave and his team always inspire and challenge us to reach higher.”
Michael Chuang, a Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student working with Narasimhan, is enjoying the opportunity to combine his interest in sports with his engineering research.
"Many times my friends and I prefer watching the game at home instead of paying for nosebleed seats, because we get a better view of the game on television," said Chuang. "Now that we're replicating some of that TV and TiVo experience for fans on their cell phones, there's more incentive to go to the games."
Other members of the YinzCam project include Xunnan Fu, Justin Beaver, Daniel Burrows, Kelsey Ho, Wesley Jin, Jonathan Li, Dan Dancescu, Jeremy Kanter, Jennifer Engleson and Jessica Jankowitsch.