By Jack Aylmer (Reporter/Producer ), Brian Spencer (Editor )
During the lead-up to this year’s NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah, league commissioner Adam Silver gave basketball fans a glimpse into the future of the NBA’s live game streaming experience. As part of a 2023 NBA Tech Summit presentation, Silver unveiled a new feature coming to the NBA App that will allow people to scan their own avatar into a live game.
Using sports commentator Amad Rashad as an example, the commissioner demonstrated how this technology can overlay an NBA player on the court with the likeness of a fan. Silver scanned the body of Rashad and pasted it onto that of the Utah Jazz’s Talen Horton-Tucker. The avatar of Rashad is then seen running down the court in a pair of casual pants to complete a dunk in the place of Horton-Tucker.
“This will be in a live game,” Silver told Rashad as he watched his avatar. “You will be inserted into the game, you’ll be making all the same movements [the NBA player] was, but it’ll look like it’s your body.”
According to the app company Polycam, the league is using its light detection and ranging tech to capture a person’s 3D image to generate the avatar that fans will see on the floor. While the introduction of this upcoming feature has generated a lot of buzz on social media in anticipation of its arrival, the NBA has yet to announce a planned release date.
However, in addition to the avatar feature, the league revealed a variety of new in-app telecast options aimed at offering fans more customized experiences during games. This will include a wider selection of alternate languages, high-profile influencer and celebrity commentary, the ability to transport the game to virtual locations, integrated betting and enhanced camera angles.
Other new technology, like an artificial intelligence model of Dallas Mavericks All-Star Luka Dončić, was also showcased at the event as the league continues to look for new ways to evolve fan engagement.
“I think as a general matter the direction the world is going in terms of technology, and certainly not just in sports, is more interactive and personalized experiences,” said Silver. “There are unique opportunities around sports given the principally live nature of the viewership to do a lot more when it comes to creating these direct-to-consumer relationships. Fans can hone in on what specific aspect is most interesting to them.”