How Authentic Crowd Reactions Could Accompany Potential Empty Arena Games

It’s looking more and more likely that the return of sports will at least start with some games contested in empty arenas. While not ideal, it certainly seems like a logical step in the overall process to return to normal. But how would crowdless games sound for those watching at home? One company is working on a system that will collect fan reactions at home to provide a soundtrack for the live events.

According to Forbes, it’s something currently being worked on and tested by Toronto-based ChampTrax Technologies, which was founded in 2018 and currently conducts performance tracking for baseball, basketball and hockey teams. With no games to process data from, the company has been testing out a new product called HearMeCheer, which is being touted as a way to provide fan engagement in the time of social distancing.

“It is a platform designed for fans on the couch to watch their favorite team play and have their audio heard on the broadcast,” ChampTrax founder Elias Andersen said in a phone interview earlier this week.  “Each fan sits at their couch, they go to their phone, go to our website. They put their phone down and in the background it automatically records their sound, sends it to our server and then it creates one audio stream with everyone’s sound. So, it congregates hundreds of households to create one audio stream.”

We mentioned in a post last week that necessity is the mother of invention, and this is just another example. According to ChampTrax, audio from each couch fan gets sent to the company’s server and is filtered out by the web server. Then a group of engineers process the audio, listen for the sound and filter what they think is appropriate.

“Because there’s so many people on the system, once you get above 20, 30 people, even if someone screams at the top of their lungs, they won’t be heard on the broadcast because we do this filtering that basically makes sure no one voice can be heard over the others,” Andersen said.

It will be interesting to see how leagues proceed with regards to rules for empty arena games, and how they will regulate public address systems, arena props, and synthetic fan noise.

There seems like there are a cadre of audio issues to contend with. However, collecting authentic fan reactions at home, in real time, to provide a soundtrack for games certainly sounds like an interesting idea.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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