MLB takes AR to next level for fans at ballpark

Augmented reality will enhance Statcast data through iPhones, iPads

MLB takes AR to next level for fans at ballpark

"When I think about the big things, I think about AR," Apple CEO Tim Cook said on stage at Apple's recent special event. At Bat, the most successful app in sports history, was again featured in Apple's on-stage demo, this time through the ability to integrate augmented reality (AR) by utilizing Apple's new ARKit with iOS11. 

MLB Advanced Media will again revolutionize the presentation of live game data on iPhone and iPad, this time using AR, to bring the power of live Statcast™ data into the stands and bleachers around the league starting in the 2018 season. 

Imagine a player's datastream following him around the bases or as he runs down a deep fly. Imagine being in a ballpark seat and holding an iPhone camera toward the field, and then "seeing" the baserunners' picture and pertinent real-time data near where they are standing. Imagine just holding up your device so it recognizes AR surroundings, bringing the field of play to life. What if you could point your iPad at the Green Monster in Fenway Park and suddenly you see video of Ted Williams or Carl Yastrzemski? 

More importantly, imagine being able to take this technology and run with it, baseball-style. It is that similar pioneering mindset that guided MLBAM for the past two decades, leading to the first over-the-top live streaming service known now as MLB.TV. With AR, fans in the stands will be able to get live data to amplify their experiences of what they are already seeing. You will be able to quickly interact with detailed stats and data visualizations, even gaining an advantage on other fans by seeing optimal conditions for a stolen base, a pickoff throw or a certain type of pitch. 

"We have all this real-time data thanks to Statcast™, and it will enhance the game you are seeing out on the field," said Chad Evans, MLBAM senior vice president, product development, mobile. "AR is going to bring new experiences to the fans, and baseball will be at the forefront. There are so many untapped possibilities of what this technology can do." 

MLB.com At Bat revolutionized the presentation of live game sports statistical data in mobile apps, first for iPhone, then for iPad, and most recently for Apple Watch. In 2015, MLB unveiled Statcast™, the new game analytics technology installed in all 30 MLB ballparks. Using a combination of Computer Vision and LIDAR, Statcast™ measures everything happening on the field on every play in every game, providing detailed player movement and ball flight trajectory data for the 750,000 pitches thrown each season. 

This has already unlocked a new language in baseball statistics, creating expansive levels of insight into the game. Today, new stats like exit velocity, launch angle, pitching spin rate and defensive range are being shown to fans in TV broadcasts.

Anything's possible with baseball's latest technology, and that promises to make a must-have app even better and a countdown to the next Opening Day even more suspenseful.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him on Twitter @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.