Making cycling broadcasts more interactive

VENTOUX – a Digital Transformation Media project funded by Flanders Culture Youth and Media department (CJM) – focuses on making cycling broadcasts more interactive.

Based on metadata generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI), VENTOUX optimizes the searchability of the video and exploits the content more widely.

In addition, VENTOUX investigates how different video streams can be combined in an accurate 3D representation of the environment, on which additional virtual information can then be mapped (e.g. virtual banners and profiles).

Recent studies show that the average viewer of traditional sports broadcasts is aging and the younger generation of fans is dropping out. Consequently, there is a need for more personalized and interactive forms of digital sports experience and storytelling.

Recent evolutions in the field of enrichment and augmentation of video can contribute to this, and allow us to do more with the existing video streams of which often only 1 reaches the living room. This is exactly what VENTOUX will focus on. 

IDLab (UGent-imec) mainly focuses on the development of the necessary AI building blocks for metadata generation, the 3D mapping of video images and the enrichment of the images. With regard to the development of AI models, the group can already rely on extensive knowledge that has been built up in recent years (e.g. in the recent COURSE project with the UCI).

Also in the field of immersive visual technology, augmented reality and 3D mapping, IDLab has already built up a lot of relevant expertise that is useful in VENTOUX. The group will further build on its own representation of visual data, namely Steered-mixture-of-experts which is able to represent the environment as a free view point.

VENTOUX will extract the rich information contained in the different types of video streams (e.g. helicopter, moto, and dashcam footage) and mix them to build more interactive visualizations and innovative services.

VENTOUX creates new experiences (such as free viewpoint 3D video of a certain segment from the race), facilitates the search/filtering of images (by rider, location and event) and simplifies linking and archiving the content.

Based on VENTOUX’s automatically generated metadata (such as events, riders, locations and POI’s), the searchability of the video can be optimized and the content can be exploited more widely via various channels/applications

The scope of the project is innovative capture, enrichment and combination of images of cycling races, as well as the storytelling that we can bring based on the new content.

However, use cases of VENTOUX are not limited to cycling. We can also enrich other sport events (such as marathons/triathlons, Olympic Games, and ski & snowboard competitions) and even outside of sport we can use VENTOUX building blocks in/for the recording of (live) events.

In terms of stakeholders, we primarily think of the current ‘customers’ of EMG content (VRT, DPG Media, Play Sports, etc.), but also other parties, such as organizers (Flanders Classics, Golazo, etc.), who based on VENTOUX can offer new services in their product range. In conclusion, we see opportunities for VENTOUX in both a B2B and B2C context. 

Prof. Dr. Steven Verstockt

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