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September 26, 2007

Purdue fans dial up football replays on cell phones

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
eStadium replay
on cell phone

Download photo
caption below

If you attend a Purdue University home football game this year, you can have the ability to call up instant replays on demand right in your hand.

Purdue's eStadium is believed to be the first service to offer access to instant replays on cell phones, as well as other features that will make the game-day experience more interactive for fans in the stands. The service is available at no charge to those attending football games at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium.

Fans who have cell phones with Internet capabilities are able to see replays from as many as six camera angles and to sort through the replays to find videos involving particular players or types of plays, such as a touchdown pass or quarterback sack.

Current game statistics, scores of other games in progress, and biographical information of players and coaches also are available.

James Krogmeier, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-director of Purdue's Center for Wireless Systems and Applications, says other new features are being added this football season.

"Fans are able to vote for their choice for the game's most valuable player," Krogmeier says. "Fans can also e-mail questions to coach Joe Tiller during the game, and he will answer selected ones on his coach's show."

Morgan Burke, Purdue's athletics director, says wireless technologies developed in eStadium, such as cell phone multimedia delivery, will eventually find widespread use.

"This research will be used in many areas other than sports," Burke says. "Here in Ross-Ade Stadium, you have a big audience that the researchers can tap into as a test bed, but there are many other areas of society that will benefit from what we are learning about wireless technology."

Burke says the university has no plans to charge for the multimedia content.

"This is an important educational and research project, and I'm pleased that it has been so successful over the past few years," Burke says. "Our goal isn't to make money from this, but to involve Purdue Athletics in providing an educational and research opportunity for our students."

eStadium is a joint project among Purdue's Center for Wireless Systems and Applications in the College of Engineering, Purdue Athletics, and the Office of Information Technology.

Edward Coyle, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, says that since eStadium was launched in 2001 it has had several achievements.

"In 2002 we were the first to deliver instant replays on demand over the stadium's wireless network," Coyle says. "We believe we were the first to have an entire football stadium covered by wireless Internet, and we were the first to have a suite of software applications developed just for football fans."

Previously, viewers had to have devices known as PDAs, or personal digital assistants, that were capable of receiving WiFi signals in order to view replays. With the new system, the number of users in Ross-Ade Stadium is expected to increase from a few hundred to several thousand.

"We will continue to deliver the content for both cell phones and the WiFi network," Coyle says. "For example, if a fan has an Apple iPhone or device with wireless access, they would be able to get the same replays using the WiFi network."

Although there will be no charge for the multimedia content from Purdue, Steve Dunlop, eStadium project manager for the Office of Information Technology at Purdue, cautions that users should be aware of their cell phone service plan before trying to download the videos or other content.

"On many phones, it's possible to use the data service and get the Internet even if you haven't signed up for your provider's data plan, but you will be charged a high fee for this," Dunlop says. "We don't want anyone to try to use the service and end up with a huge bill. You should sign up for your provider's data plan before you try to use eStadium."

Because of television network licensing agreements, only people who are in the stadium will be able to view the content.

"We'll put an access code up on the video replay board for people in the stadium to use," Dunlop says.

Delivering content on cell phones presents challenges to the research team, particularly because nearly every cellular provider uses different technology to deliver content.

"It's not like your desktop computer where there are just one or two standards," Coyle says. "Here there are dozens of ways of doing things, but we've created a system that will deliver content to nearly all of them."

Dunlop says the system is designed to be as versatile as possible.

"The formats are designed to be forward-compatible. As new cell phones come on the market, which they do every week, nearly every one of them should work with one of the six formats," he says. "Our system is also scalable as new formats are available."

The eStadium system has a component that will determine whether the video should be downloaded or streamed, and in which format, says Aaron Ault, research and facilities coordinator for the Center for Wireless Systems and Applications.

"We deliver the videos in six forms using three encoding methodologies," Ault says. "The videos will be available about 15 seconds after the replay is available."

Ault says the system runs on a low-cost system of desktop computers in Purdue's Mathematics Building, which is located about a half mile south of the stadium.

Writer: Steve Tally, (765) 494-9809, tally@purdue.edu

Sources:   James Krogmeier, (765) 494-3530, jvk@ecn.purdue.edu

Morgan Burke, (765) 494-3189, mjb@purdue.edu

Edward Coyle, (765) 494-3470, coyle@ecn.purdue.edu

Aaron Ault, (765) 496-9618, ault@purdue.edu

Steve Dunlop, (765) 494-5861, dunlops@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

PHOTO CAPTION: Football fans at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium can have video replays in the palm of their hands, thanks to eStadium. The free service allows fans to select and view replays on cell phones equipped with a data plan. eStadium technology behind the scenes prepares the videos within seconds and delivers them in the appropriate format for each device. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2007/eStadium.jpg

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