Monday, Feb 6, 2023

MLSE working on 'mixed reality' tech to enhance fan experience and help its teams win

TORONTO — Imagine being on the court with the Toronto Raptors. Or watching an NHL game from the stands with real-time statistics literally in front..

MLSE working on 'mixed reality' tech to enhance fan experience and help its teams win

TORONTO — Imagine being on the court with the Toronto Raptors. Or watching an NHL game from the stands with real-time statistics literally in front of your nose.

TORONTO — Imagine being on the court with the Toronto Raptors. Or watching an NHL game from the stands with real-time statistics literally in front of your nose.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is ahead of you, developing "mixed reality" technology to change how fans experience the action by integrating digital information with the user's environment in real time.

MLSE Digital Labs, the sports conglomerate's technology and digital innovation arm, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have unveiled a new research and development program called SportsX. Its goal is to use technology — and game data provided by the NBA and NHL — to enhance the fan experience and give its teams a winning edge.

On Monday evening, media were given a hands-on look at the in-progress project at Scotiabank Arena — first in the Raptors' old practice court attached to the arena and then in a suite as the Maple Leafs hosted the New York Islanders.

A cutting edge "mixed reality" headset helped unlock what was billed as an "immersive basketball experience" that turned the empty Raptors court into a game environment with life-size virtual players racing past or through you. 

MLSE says the technology combines optical tracking body-pose data, 3D models and the Unity video game engine to deliver the experience to the headset.

In the arena suite, a table with a digital top — think of a vintage Pac-Man tabletop video game but with cutting-edge tech — showed data from the NHL game below. Moving poker chip-like icons with a photo of the player in question mirrored the action on the ice below, complete with puck.

A touch of a button and the table switches to real-time player statistics like distance skated, faceoffs won, hardest shot, total hits, maximum speed and total passes. Another touch of the button and the digital display offers a player's heat map showing where they have been on the ice.

Putting on another augmented reality headset, attached to a hand-held app, and you see headshots of the players on the ice in your display as you watch the live action. Using a virtual pointer, you can choose a player and see his real-time stats come up in front of you as the game action unfolds.

The NHL provides the data, having microchipped the puck and player jerseys for NHL Edge, the league's puck and player tracking technology system that has been deployed in all 32 NHL arenas. Some of that data is currently being used by the league's broadcast partners, from skating speed to shot velocity.

But MLSE wants to bring it to your phone and its app sooner than later. And for Christian Magsisi, MLSE's vice-president of venue and digital technology, it's a matter of when not if such advances make it to your home.

Unlike the NHL data-tracking, the Raptors immersive experience uses cameras mounted in the arena to track movement. That data, which is being gathered at every NBA arena, is then processed and streamed to the headset.

"There's a basketball game being played exactly where you're standing right now. But not physically, virtually," explained Magsisi.

Put on the headset and the virtual players emerge — playing the game full-tilt, running, passing and shooting around you or through you.

"We can quite literally recreate the game that happened last night or historically," said Magsisi. "So imagine thinking about maybe a game you attended or a game that has some sort of significant relevance to you and being able to put on virtual reality goggles and being able to watch that courtside. Or even better than that actually, walk onto the court." 

The optical tracking data uses computer vision to capture human movement and identify the position of each joint and limb. It captures the data at some 60 frames per second or more with each frame containing the position of every player on the court including every joint/limb.

MLSE showcased it on a full-sized basketball court but says it can be used anywhere. The user can walk around the environment, look around and see things from the perspective of fans courtside, coaches on the bench or the players themselves on the floor.

At this stage, the players are generic — think realistic moving mannequins — but will become more lifelike facsimiles in the future once the red tape — re: player images and other issues — are resolved. 

Game data is relayed to an AWS "outpost" at Scotiabank Arena, reducing delays, and then analyzed and distributed to the necessary applications.

The challenge now is to figure out how to best use it, with MLSE well on its way.

"The fact that the leagues now made this data available, I think that's a huge win," said Humza Teherany, MLSE's chief technology and digital officer.

He expects other leagues to follow suit.

While the technology is eye-popping, it is still under development. Both MLSE projects started in July.

"We are testing technology that isn't quite yet ready for production. But we want to show the fans now … We want fans to actually see it," said Magsisi.

"We are working with some of the biggest tech companies in the world to advance this technology," he added.

The headsets used by SportX aren't cheap. But the tech is advancing and the hope is, in the near future, that they reduce in size and price.

How teams will mine such technology for their own uses has also yet to be fully determined. But Magsisi is confident they will find a use for it.

"If we can recreate a game, who knows what ideas our coaching staff, our players, our scouts, would come up with?" he said

But the ability to monitor movement on the NBA court could help in injury assessment and avoidance, while on-ice data can better help teams determine talent using souped-up analytics.


Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

By: Neil Davidson
Title: MLSE working on 'mixed reality' tech to enhance fan experience and help its teams win
Sourced From:
Published Date: 01-24-2023

Frequently Asked Questions

How long have the Raptors been a team?

Toronto Raptors is an NBA basketball franchise. In 1995, the NBA added the Raptors to its expansion roster along with the Vancouver Grizzlies. In 2001-02, the Raptors became the only Canadian-based NBA team after the Grizzlies moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

Toronto Raptors' home games are played at Scotiabank Arena. The Maple Leafs is the NHL team from Toronto, and also uses the arena. Since their inception, the Raptors have been in the NBA playoffs 13 different times. They lost 6 games to Philadelphia 76ers in round one of the playoffs in 2021.

1999-2000 saw the Raptors make their first playoff appearance. They were swept by New York Knicks their division rivals in the first round.

Fans were rare and few, and the team was not very exciting. There wasn't much to cheer for, or even watch, and nobody knew why. After years of being mediocre, the team made a decision to improve its image and make it more appealing to the general public.

The team hired an agency to create a marketing strategy that would bring them national fame in 2001. Using creative thinking, they devised a slogan, "Hear us roar."

They used the slogan because the team was in financial trouble at the time and wanted to make sure that everyone knew that they were selling out. All they had to do was create a catchy phrase with a great logo. This is where creativity shines through. They combined the phrase "hear us roar" with another popular saying, "never say die." This became the official motto of the Toronto Raptors.

What's the name of Toronto Raptors mascot?"

The Toronto Raptors are a NBA franchise which was established in 1995. They play their games at Scotiabank Arena.

Raptor is the Raptors' mascot. He is a giant, red dinosaur. Raptor was introduced to the Raptors in 1995. He entertains fans at home with his acrobatics, slam-dunks, and other tricks. He is also a regular at charity events and community initiatives in Toronto. For his many years of support to the Raptors, he was named NBA Mascot of the Years in 2019. Raptor, a beloved figure around Toronto and in the NBA, is one of the most prominent mascots within professional sports. He has also been a national symbol for Canada's basketball fans.

Many share Raptor’s enthusiasm and love for the team and its fans across the nation. Raptor is the Raptors' leader, and they have been one of most successful NBA teams since winning their first championship in 2019. This was a historic moment for Canadian basketball fans. Raptor continues being a source to pride for all Raptors. As long as he is around, there will be plenty Raptors pride. The Raptor will live on! Go, Toronto Raptors!

What was the Raptors first game?

The Raptors' first regular season was played at the SkyDome against the New Jersey Nets, November 3, 1995. Alvin Robertson scored the first point in franchise history, drawing 33,306 spectators. The Raptors defeated Nets 94-79% with contributions from Damon Stoudamire (with 10 points and 10 assists) as well Robertson (30pts).

How many Toronto Raptors were home to all-stars?

Vince Carter (Vince Carter), Antonio Davis, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are all Raptors All-Stars. Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Fred VanVleet, DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard are also Raptors All Stars. These players, with the exception of VanVleet and Davis, have all been part of an impressive All-Star team.

What was the first season for the Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors had a terrible debut season, winning only 21 games. The 1995-1996 Toronto Raptors season marked the beginning of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Toronto Raptors. The Raptors were one of two expansion teams that joined the league that year, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies. It was also the first NBA season playing outside of the United States.

Isiah Tom, an All Star point guard and a Detroit Pistons legend was named the team's general manager. He was involved in the draft that produced Damon Stoudamire. He would go on to win Rookie-of-the Year. They also acquired Tracy Murray (and Oliver Miller) in separate trades. Thomas also introduced a brand new primary logo, featuring a play by basketball dinosaur and new pinstripe jerseys with the logo. The Raptors added purple and red to their color scheme.

The Raptors' debut under new head coach Brendan Malone on November 3 ended in a victory against the New Jersey Nets at the SkyDome, but they lost their next seven games.

Murray was second in scoring with 16.2 points per game. He also led the team with 151 three point field goals. Miller scored 12.9 points, had 7.4 rebound, 1.4 steals and 1.9 block per game. Robertson added 9.3 point, 4.4 rebound, four assists, and two steals per night from the bench.

Despite having one among the worst records, attendance was good. They averaged more than 17283 fans per SkyDome (now Rogers Centre).


  • As predicted by analysts, the team easily secured a berth in the 2001 NBA playoffs with a franchise-high 47 wins. (
  • This improved during the 2006–07 regular season to an average of 18,258 fans (13th in the league), 92.2 percent capacity at the Air Canada Centre. (
  • By 2018, estimated the Raptors were worth $1.4 billion, 12th in the NBA. (
  • Thomas named Raptors' GM NBA superstar to have 10% stake in the new franchise". (
  • This improved during the 2006–07 regular season to an average of 18,258 fans (13th in the league), 92.2 percent capacity at the Air Canada Centre. (

External Links

How To

Can I take my photography equipment to a Raptors Game?

You'll be fine if you stick to the plan and follow the rules. There's nothing wrong with bringing a camera to an NBA game. It is not illegal. It is important to be aware that there are risks.

First, you must consider whether you must take pictures during the game. You don't need a heavy DSLR or smartphone to take great photos as long as you are near the court.

If you are serious about sports photography and want to get more photos to add to your portfolio, you should check these tips for better basketball shots.

The second thing you need to think about is the kind of camera you're going to use. If you want to shoot action shots, or share memorable moments with others, you need a professional grade camera.

Also, consider how much you're willing and able to spend on setting up your shot. A tripod and remote release are great options if you want to take your kids to the hoops.

The final step is to decide where to store your gear. You cannot expect to set up shop at an arena and then hope someone will hand over a memory stick when you're done. You will need to either bring extra batteries, cables, SD cards, or find somewhere to store your stuff while you watch the game.

It is important to plan ahead if you want high quality photos at sporting events. This will ensure that you get great photos you can use later.