San Francisco 49ers unveil the first in-stadium 8K replay system


In California fans are still prohibited from the stadium so they won’t see it on the boards, but referees might, and a clear view of who touched the fall, whether someone was grabbed, or when and where a foot hit the ground could make all the difference. The first 8K test run happened during a game last year against the Rams, with more tests during home games in the last month.

Check out this sample clip for an idea of how the system looks in action.

While you won’t see any 8K at home, the first game with the system officially in use is next week’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the Packers. According to Kennedy, a TV broadcast could pull the 1080 signal from the compiled feed, and if higher-res broadcasts become the norm, there’s enough unused dark fiber in the stadium to enable 4K or 8K distribution.

The project is the result of a partnership with Foxconn Industrial Internet (Fii) that started last year, and included replacing the displays in Levi’s Stadium with Sharp monitors. The 8K cameras are made Astro Design, and each push up to 6 Gbps of data that has to be distributed, processed and stored by the replay system. That’s why the 49ers say their system “is able to ingest the highest amounts of data for any existing stadium.”

A decade ago, stadiums were doing battle over who could boast the largest HD video board. If a high-res replay system like this makes the difference in the NFC West playoff race, we might see a similar arms race over adding resolution to make sure refs see everything they need to see.

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