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Ericsson launches AR software for sports broadcasts

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Ericsson has launched Piero Augmented Reality, a software system that gives broadcasters the ability to enhance sports programming and create more immersive viewing experiences.

Ericsson’s Piero Augmented Reality enables broadcasters to overlay 3D graphics in real-time during live studio productions and sports games. Sports analysis graphics can be produced instantly either by a system operator or by a presenter using a tablet device. The graphics are then projected onto the studio floor in 3D allowing broadcasters to illustrate the analysis sequence without cutting away from the studio environment. The software is currently being tested by the BBC for its iconic football highlights TV program, Match of the Day.

The market-leading technology, which makes its global debut at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas, integrates easily with major studio tracking systems including Motion Analysis and nCam and popular sports information service Opta. In addition to the effects already available in Piero Sports Graphics system, some new ones include:

·         3D Virtual Replay – visualize a replay of the match on the studio floor

·         3D Heat Map – a customizable heat map based on Opta touch data

·         Goal Build Up – visualize the passes sequence to a goal or a shot

·         Pass Map – visualize a team’s passes map during a game

·         Actual game footage projected in 3D on the studio floor

·         3D Shots on goal – visualize shot trajectories and attempts on goal

·         Penalty Heat Map – customizable heat map based on Opta penalty shots data

Thorsten Sauer, Head of Broadcast and Media Services, Ericsson, says: “When sports programming was first broadcast on TV, data visualization was confined to basic statistics reporting, separated from the actual sports clips, and relied only on expert commentaries to make data understandable. Piero Augmented Reality allows broadcasters to go beyond rudimentary, pre-built 2D graphics and bring events to life through data-driven stories for even more compelling viewing and create deeper engagement through stunning artistry. With some major sporting events on the horizon in 2016, we’re confident that this industry-first technology will really elevate sports programming to an even bigger stage.”

Piero Augmented Reality is a part of Ericsson’s Piero product suite. Piero is Ericsson’s world-leading real time sports graphics software specifically designed to enhance and analyze sports for broadcasters and TV service providers. Offering a user-friendly and reliable system, Piero is used by over 50 broadcasters around the world to deliver stunning, fast and accurate analysis graphics of sports programming and to enhance broadcast presentation of international sporting events such as the Olympic Games.

Using image recognition and state-of-the-art graphic overlays, Ericsson’s Piero enhances sports video media with visually engaging and informative illustrative effects and statistics. The Piero platform enables a wide range of graphical effects to be added to video; from simple markers and counters to more sophisticated effects such as heat maps, formations and 3D flyarounds that can be used for live productions or highlight shows. Piero offers bespoke modules for a wide variety of sports, from football and tennis to hurling and handball.

Every day, people on all continents watch television programs prepared, managed and broadcast by more than 2,500 Ericsson staff based in Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and the US. Ericsson is the largest provider of content discovery services in Europe, delivering metadata, images, search and recommendations on more than 3,000 TV channels in over 30 languages. Every year, Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services distributes more than 2.7 million hours of programming in more than 90 languages for more than 500 TV channels worldwide. In addition, we provide more than 230,000 hours of captioning each year – over 100,000 hours of which is live.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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