Niners test 8K cameras for replays at Levi’s Stadium

When fans are allowed back into Levi’s Stadium, they will be able to see some replays in the highest definition ever, thanks to an experiment that uses 8K camera technology to zoom in like never before.

Born out of a partnership between the San Francisco 49ers and Foxconn Industrial Internet (Fii), the team has mounted five of Fii’s 8K cameras inside the stadium to provide extremely high-definition views of both end zones, as well as an “all-22” look at the entire field. Because the 8K technology provides such a high level of resolution, the Niners have been able to show replays on the stadium’s big screens that can zoom in extremely close, all the better to help resolve the outcome of game action.

(8K-enabled replay of a touchdown play during the recent game between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Credit: San Francisco 49ers)

While fans may enjoy the enhanced clarity, the main motivation behind the deployment was “to help the team win on the field,” said Aron Kennedy, vice president for game day production and broadcast operations for the Niners. While display and camera geeks can dive into the numbers behind what an 8K camera brings to the game, the simple explanation is that with much higher resolution, an 8K camera can provide the ability to zoom far deeper into a replay, bringing the kind of clarity that can help tell without a doubt whether a player’s toe has touched in-bounds or not, or whether a ball has “broken the plane” of the goal line.

According to Kennedy, the 8K cameras — one directly mounted pointing down each side of each goal line, plus the all-22 all-field cam — allow operators to zoom in as much as 400 percent while still providing an HD feed to the main scoreboards, the highest resolution those displays can show.

An 8K camera mounted inside Levi’s Stadium. Credit all photos: San Francisco 49ers (click on picture for a larger image)

Since the Niners can show the replays quickly on the big boards, Kennedy said the technology provides a sort of quick monitor to the team’s coaches, who can then decide whether or not they want to challenge a call. In a recent game against the Green Bay Packers, an 8K-enhanced replay led to a challenge call that overturned the referee’s original decision. In a big game, even having little edges like that could make the difference, Kennedy said.

Overall, just having a team that not only supports but encourages testing new technology makes being at Levi’s Stadium a fun place for employees like Kennedy, an 18-year veteran of the NFL who is now in his seventh year with the Niners.

“It says a lot about the organization, that they always want to push the envelope,” said Kennedy. “We like to lead the edge.”

One of the Levi’s Stadium video boards showing an 8K replay

Mozilla to Build Firefox Driven Tablet?


The latest and greatest rumor going around is that Mozilla, the non-profit behind the popular Firefox operating system, may be looking to create a tablet that will use the Firefox operating system.

The rumor has a kernel of truth, something that many often do not, in at least Mozilla is announcing a new hardware product next Monday, it just has declined to say what it is and what the target market for the product will be.

The move is not that surprising if it is a tablet since it would fit in with its Open Web initiative that includes the first commercial build of the Firefox OS and efforts to build a global ecosystem for that OS that has already gained 18 operators including Alcatel, Deutsch Telecom, Telefonica, Sprint, Qtel and others. However this move was for smartphones so it seems logical that the next step would be for tablets.

The question seems to be why would the company enter the tablet space rather than license it out to the market as it is doing in the smartphone space? At the time of the Open Web push, back in February at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona the company said that hardware was in its future and I believe that many expected it to be a smartphone, considering the circumstances of the announcement.

It said that it is working with manufacturers Alcatel (TCL), LG and ZTE, with Huawei to follow later on to build the first Firefox OS devices. They will all be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processor family. But it was not ignoring the content side and said that it has signed strategic relationships with key content and service partners. It should be noted that at the time it specifically said that all of this was for smartphones.

So will we see a series of smartphones from Mozilla and partners Monday or will we see a tablet? It will be interesting to see which it is. One thing for sure is that Mozilla has said that Foxconn, the company that does a great deal of work with Apple in building its iOS products, will be the manufacturing partner.