And now for something completely different: Thanks to easing lockdown restrictions, professional sports like NFL football, MLB baseball, and NASCAR are starting back up. Unfortunately, because of ongoing fears of another wave of coronavirus cases, most stadiums are not open to fans, leaving them to only watch from home. However, just because you can't see a game live does not mean you can't let your favorite team know you are rooting for them.
Yamaha thinks it has come up with a solution that will allow fans to feel like they are virtually at the game, while also giving players the sense that the stands are full. It is called the "Remote Cheerer."
Remote Cheerer powered by SoundUD is essentially a soundboard app for your mobile phone that transmits sound effects to the stadium. The software allows users to choose where they would like to be virtually seated, and various cheers or jeers are activated with the tap of a button. The app then sends those noises to one of 58 speakers located around the playing field. Examples of some of the sound effects include cheering, booing, applause, and clapping along to team chants.
Yamaha just conducted testing of the system at Japan's Shizuoka Stadium at a soccer match between Júbilo Iwata and Shimizu S-Pulse.
"With the possibility of spectatorless matches and restrictions on cheering in mind, I feel that this system will encourage players on the field by making them feel like their fans and supporters are nearby," said Jubilo representative Hiromi Yanagihara. "Our club looks forward to further collaboration in order to be able to implement the system at future events."
Yamaha did not have any information on when the system could be deployed elsewhere. However, even if it rolls out after things have resumed to normal, the company feels it still has applications aside from spectator-free events.
"We are working to promote this system as a means of delivering cheering and fan support in a wide variety of situations," said Yuki Seto with Yamaha's SoundUD Group. "This includes not only spectatorless matches, but also matches with reduced spectator seating or where shouting is not possible, as well as accommodating fans who can't attend matches due to being hospitalized, busy taking care of children, etc."
Whether something like this would catch on in the US remains to be seen. More likely, it would be plagued by trolls, but it remains an interesting application of technology nonetheless.