Intel Goes ‘FreeD’ With Deal for Israeli Video Firm

The acquisition of Replay Technologies puts Intel in a new category of sports entertainment that it calls "immersive sports."
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 9, 2016

Intel is making a play in the business of broadcasting sports, acquiring an Israeli company whose “freeD” video technology provides a panoramic view of the action.

The semiconductor giant said Wednesday it had made a deal to buy Replay Technologies, a Tel Aviv-based startup. The two companies had joined forces last month during the NBA All-Star Weekend, where fans got to experience a full 360 degrees of the Slam Dunk contest.

While Intel did not disclose the terms of the deal, it is expected to pay between $150 million and $170 million for Replay, two people familiar with the deal told the Wall Street Journal.

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“Together, we will scale this new category for sports entertainment that we call immersive sports, which is attracting the attention of leagues, venues, broadcasters and fans,” Intel said in a blog post.

“Technology now plays an unprecedented role in sports … and we’re just getting started,” it added.

As Ars Technica reports, “Intel is no stranger to 3D technology.” Its RealSense 3D cameras allow users to do things like implement a green-screen effect to change the background behind them and look around Google Maps’ Street View using just head motions.

“Acquiring Replay Technologies is a way for Intel to expand 3D video technology into a different industry, not to mention on a larger scale,” Ars Technica said.

To capture the action at the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest, Replay placed 28 ultra-HD cameras around the arena. Those cameras were connected to Intel servers, which then allowed broadcasters to transmit the contest from various angles and give fans a 360-degree view of the dunks.

Intel said it would work with Replay to “deliver faster freeD processing and new features like the ability to manipulate and edit personalized content.”

“The acquisition is part of Intel’s recent push in the domain of augmented reality and virtual reality,” the WSJ said, noting that Intel has acquired at least five companies specializing in those technologies and is currently working on an augmented-reality wearable headset.

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