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ESPN Innovation Lab debuts at Disney’s Sports Complex

Darrell Fry

by , Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World Resort

NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were going one-on-one the other day at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Well, in a virtual sense they did.

The virtual image of Kobe and LeBron, which ESPN used in its NBA Finals broadcast coverage this summer, is just some of the cool new on-air broadcast technology being developed by ESPN at its new Innovation Lab at Disney’s Sports Complex.

The virtual player images are part of what ESPN calls its EA Sports Virtual Playbook application, which it also used during its NFL broadcast coverage. Essentially, it allows ESPN’s on-air talent to demonstrate team plays for the viewer by interacting with virtual players on a virtual field in the studio.

More high-tech applications are on the way. Construction was recently completed on the ESPN Innovation Lab, a new building near the complex’s tennis courts, which is where an ESPN Emerging Technology team will now work exclusively. It’s the perfect location because ESPN has no shortage of test subjects given that more than 250,000 athletes compete and train in 60 different sports at the Disney complex each year.

And ESPN has been putting them to good use, testing all sorts of funky new innovations on them – innovations that will be coming to a TV set near you soon. Nothing has been formally announced yet, but word is that a couple of things they are working on involve utilizing hologram technology for something similar to a virtual interview, as well as some funky new freeze frame and zoom applications.

Stay tuned.


  • A-Maz-Ing! Makes me want to work for Disney even moreso than I did before. I was just telling people about what I saw two weekends ago on the ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown, when they used this technology to map out the play. Absolutely amazing!

  • This is the coolest thing ever.

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