ESPN this week officially opened its new ESPN Innovation Lab at Disney World in Orlando.
The lab, which will be housed at the soon-to-be-renamed ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, will provide the sports network a real world testing ground to continue developing innovative on-air technology. ESPN is owned by Disney Corp.
The mission of the new facility is to use the world-class playing fields and the 300,000 youth and pro athletes who use them annually to develop new products during actual game conditions that will enhance viewers’ experiences. The facility will also be open at certain times of the year to visitors to view the company’s emerging-technology staff at work and to get a sneak peek at upcoming technological developments.
The lab recently produced two new production elements, Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom. Ball Track is a Doppler radar hit-tracking system that can track home runs showing the distance and height of the ball in-flight, updating continuously during the balls flight. It debuted on the 2009 MLB Home Run Derby telecast on July 13. ESPN Snap Zoom debuted on Monday Night Football on Sept. 28 and is a freeze-frame technology that brings the fan closer to the play by zooming in an area of interest and providing insight to a current action on the field thus giving the viewer a different view on a particular focus of play.
The ESPN Innovation Lab is the first major piece of a re-imagining project involving ESPN and the Disney sports complex. The project, which aims to create an immersive and entertaining sports experience for athletes, coaches and fans, is expected to be completed early next year. The complex has hosted more than 200 annual events in 60 different sports involving athletes from more than 70 countries since opening in 1997.