Tomorrow is the day the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) reveals which country will be hosting the 2022 World Cup. Australia, Qatar, South Korea and the United States are all in the running, but none of them pitched an event quite as technologically advanced as Japan.
The promotional video for Japan’s bid shows the world coming together for the 2022 event like never before. Holographic players take the field at events all over the globe. Fans communicate in real-time with enthusiasts in other countries with the aid of translating earpieces.
The bid paints a picture of an event pulled straight from science fiction,. and while Japan doubtlessly has the best of intentions, technology experts aren’t sure they can actually pull it off.
CNN spoke to several experts in the fields of communication and holographic displays to measure the possibility of technology catching up to Japan’s ambitions by 2022.
Of the proposed innovations, only the freeviewpoint technology seems immediately achievable. Using a series of 200 high-definition cameras recording every action on the field, viewers will be able to watch the game from a player’s-eye view, much like a video game.
The holographic technology, on the other hand, might be out of reach.
“The ‘freeviewpoint’ is definitely going to be feasible, there’s a lot of work being done on that,” said Phil Surman, a scientist working on 3D television projects at Britain’s De Montfort University in Leicester. “But the rest is rather speculative.”
While 3D broadcasts that don’t rely on special glasses (known as auto-stereoscopic television) are currently possible, these involve projecting twin images directly at individuals. Viewers must remain in one spot or wear tracking devices to ensure the images are beamed at them.
Says Surman, while this is possible for small groups, it’s tricky on a larger scale. “I really can’t see how that can be done,” he told CNN.
So head tracking will be an issue, and according to Aberdeen University 3D television expert Professor John Watson, so is vomit.
“There’s also an obstacle with nausea, some people looking at these autostereoscopic displays can become disorientated, there are human factors like that which have to be taken into account.”
Hologram technology is improving at a steady rate, as we’ve seen on Kotaku previously, but it might not be steady enough.
As for real-time translation devices, the technology is out there, but can it handle football terminology?
While real-time language interpretation might be more achievable given that computers are already capable of handling basic translations, linguists speculate they could have trouble handling football’s unique vernacular.
Says Damian Fitzpatrick, who runs a language website that focuses on the phraseology of football, the idioms deployed by fans are often baffling to speakers of the same language.
“Some of my north American colleagues have difficulty with certain football phrases such as ‘early doors;’ ‘gatecrash the top four’ and, of course, why is it that parrots are the sickest of all creatures?” he told CNN.
Living in the US, I of course hope that my country wins the 2022 bid, but a large part of me hopes Japan gets the nod, if only to see an entire country dedicate all of its resources to advancing holographic technology to Star Wars levels.
Can Japan deliver a holographic World Cup? [CNN Tech]