Tension mounts as the place kicker trots onto the field. With only seconds left on the clock and a score of 12 to 14, this three-point field goal attempt will decide the game’s outcome. And who is the intrepid kicker, on whose kicking prowess so much rests? It’s any of a host of fans, each eager to boot the game-winning goal, thanks to some Kinect for Windows magic. The virtual field goal experience was a huge hit with football fans—watch the video below and see it in action.
Yes, thousands of fans lined up for a chance to kick virtual field goals this past season at FedEx Field during home games of Washington D.C.’s National Football League (NFL) franchise and at the annual Army-Navy grudge match at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. Part of an interactive Social Media Lounge, the virtual field goal setup consisted of a gaming wall, an enormous, high-definition screen composed of nine monitors and a Kinect for Windows v2 sensor. The Kinect sensor tracked the kicker’s motion as he or she approached the virtual ball, gave it a boot, and then followed through with, one hopes, the classic high leg swing. Using this data, the Kinect-powered app computed the velocity, distance, and accuracy of the attempt and determined whether the kicker was the hero of the play. Unlike the NFL players, the fans got a little help: each kicker was allowed five attempts to send the ball through the uprights.
The Social Media Lounge was the brainchild of high-tech marketing firm MVP Interactive. In addition to the gaming wall, the Lounge enabled fans to create virtual bobble head figurines in their own likeness and to send email images of their kick attempts and bobble heads or post the images to Facebook or Twitter. The Army-Navy game event alone generated more than 67,000 social impressions (emails, Facebook posts and clicks, and Twitter clicks).
It’s “thumbs up” from this fan as he prepares to attempt a virtual field goal for the Washington NFL team.
The events were sponsored by multinational brewing company Anheuser-Busch at the Washington games and insurer USAA at the Army-Navy game. Anheuser-Busch used the experience to promote their Bud Light brand among digital-savvy millennials, a much-sought-after demographic for the brewer, while USAA, which offers financial products to military families, took advantage of the event to make a positive connection with potential customers.
Anthony DiPrizio, chief technology officer at MVP Interactive, praises the capabilities of the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor. “At MVP Interactive, we work with and develop many cutting-edge technologies. We've found that the Kinect v2 sensor rivals and outperforms most commercial-grade sensors, which are 10 times the cost of the Kinect v2. We're very pleased with what Microsoft and the Kinect community have done to allow us to create interactions like the virtual field goal kick. The relentless effort of their development team to push out new SDK versions on a regular basis is truly game changing. We look forward to continuing to work with the device and push the boundaries of what's possible.”
The Kinect for Windows Team