The audio track of a tennis match is typically pretty homogeneous, a series of sounds from a tennis racquet hitting a ball, followed by some cheering and the announcement of the score. But what if this experience could be made immersive, providing a dynamic, stereo representation of the game? That's the challenge tackled by Action Audio, who has succeeded in bringing the technology to this year's Australian Open, one of tennis's four major events.
The location of the ball is represented by a series of pings which bounce from left to right as the players attempt to score a point. Different sounds are used to indicate a forehand or backhand shot by a player, as well as to indicate if the tennis ball is getting close to the sideline. You can go to this page for more info and sound samples.
The stream has been available during the entire two-week event, including Sunday's men's final, which starts in the early morning at 3:30 AM ET. The Action Audio enhancements are combined with commentary describing the action for a complete audio experience.
AKQA, the company behind Action Audio, worked with Tennis Australia and Monash University to implement the system. They say similar technology could be applied to other sports such as soccer and cricket, which all currently employ technology to track the location of the ball in real time.
I can't add much more, but I have been listening for the entire 2 weeks, not all the time of course, but it does bring a very interesting and new element to listening to the commentary. Hope they expand into other sports genres. Maybe I'd understand soccer, Nahahahaha, I doubt it.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.