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Accelerating innovative augmented reality broadcast applications through new industrial camera design

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Augmented reality camera connects brands to local audiences via global sports viewing

Digital billboard replacement is transforming sponsorship and advertising opportunities in sports broadcasting. An EU initiative has introduced a camera system that helps to turn traditional in-event ads into sophisticated digital media products.

Digital Economy

Project coordinator Supponor, a Finnish market leader in the emerging field of augmented reality (AR) digital replacement for real-time broadcasts and in-venue advertising streaming, took years to develop, test and commercially deploy its groundbreaking digital billboard replacement technology known as DBRLive. This delay was due to the level of innovation and complexity involved in bringing the product to the market. “DBRLive has proven to be the game changer industry insiders anticipated,” says Lassi Toivonen, coordinator of the EU-funded DBRLive project and chief scientist at Supponor.

Speeding innovative AR applications in sports broadcasting

DBRLive digitally replaces billboard advertising during live sports broadcasts. It tailors advertising content for different live video feeds of the same sporting event to diverse audiences worldwide. When players, the ball or anything else obstructs the physical advertising, DBRLive renders perfect images in real time. “We can connect with viewers in their native languages and tailor messages to different times of day or seasons, meaning brands always reach their target audiences,” explains Toivonen. A key component of the technology solution is a camera system that’s used to capture real-life images and provide data required for AR applications such as virtual graphics insertions. The system employs near infrared (NIR) cameras to identify the billboard areas on which the ad will be drawn during broadcasts. The DBRLive project has laid the necessary groundwork for a new all-in-one integrated AR broadcast camera that will “enable complex AR applications in broadcasting to be created and delivered at scale and economies not possible today,” adds Toivonen. Project partners have simplified, miniaturised and scaled the camera system. They improved the resolution, dynamic range and sensitivity of NIR imaging, eased the calibration process of NIR imaging during setup before a match start, and supported 4K resolution and TV performance. Improved quality means results in better masking, tracking and support for 4K TV production.

Unleashing the potential of global sports advertising

DBRLive is now easier to operate. Supponor doesn’t need to have its personnel at stadiums during matches. This lowers operating costs. Following training, customers can operate the camera system (TV and NIR cameras) by themselves, with remote support assistance from Supponor. Several end users stand to benefit. Sports rights holders can boost revenues from the same inventory of existing advertising space and deliver new, more valuable advertising and sponsorship-driven commercial models. New opportunities for sponsorship partners also become possible. Advertisers will be able to send regionally and locally targeted messages to specific markets and in different languages, reduce broadcast wastage and manage regulatory restrictions. Global multi-product advertisers can deliver different brands to each market. Broadcasters will increase the overall value of broadcast rights when they acquire DBRLive inventory sales rights and then on-sell to commercial partners. The innovation is undergoing modifications ahead of production. Existing optics are being updated to meet 4K requirements, and the NIR cameras are being updated to higher resolution and more sensitive models. “DBRLive takes advertising for a mass audience and turns it into high-impact, targeted virtual brand messaging,” concludes Toivonen. “It unlocks a new world of creative and commercial opportunities by providing relevant, localised brand communications to users worldwide.”


DBRLive, advertising, camera, brand, sports, billboard, AR, augmented reality, digital billboard replacement, sports broadcasting

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29 August 2019