Oh, joy. Another out-of-focus selfie on Facebook showing a fan holding a beer and smiling after a base hit. Too bad (a) it is so blurry, and (b) looks like any other I’m-drinking-a-beer-at-the-ballgame shot. What about his face the moment the bat made contact with the ball? Now that would have been a great photo.
Sports, as one of the biggest and most creative players in the social media playground, is way ahead of you. Or to be more specific, a sports venue is way ahead of you. The STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California, has launched a new partnership, brokered by AEG Global Partnerships, involving Fanpics which uses robotic cameras strategically placed throughout the arena to take photos of spectators during key moments of the game.
According to an article in Forbes, upon entering STAPLES Center, fans log into the Fanpics app and enter their seat number. Once logged in, the cameras recognize the seating location and are able to snap custom images of the person in that location at special moments during the game. Photos are then organized into a personalized photo stream within the app that is accessible anytime. Fans receive photos within 30 seconds of capture, offering real-time results.
The Fanpics site notes, “By capturing the emotional, candid moments, we want to change the way people enjoy live events—not only for those at the game, but the people they share their stories with too. So check in, put your phone away, and enjoy the game. We’ve got you covered.”
Let’s repeat that last part: put your phone away and enjoy the game. There’s a novel concept. At a time when fans are way too focused on what’s on their devices to pay attention to what’s happening on the field, or when they use their phones to take photos, even to the point of distracting officials and athletes, here’s an app that purports to solve those problems. (Of course, there’s no guarantee those same people will stop checking their e-mail, instant messaging their friends or using their phones to tweet from their seats in order to engage in other in-game promotions that might net them prizes such as upgraded seating, tickets, etc.) Of course, it would be embarrassing to access the photo stream and see that it contains images of you staring down at your screen (or, along those same lines, doing anything else you wouldn’t want recorded) during that base hit.
Fanpics says its system is triggered during big moments in the game, when fans are celebrating; in other words, it would eliminate taking unnecessary or uninteresting shots. The app is free for spectators to download and use, and at least for now, the images it captures are free to those users. It is also counting on those same users to do its marketing for them. The site, in its FAQ section, encourages sports fans to contact their local venue management and encourage them to get Fanpics, if the venue does not currently offer it.
Using the Fanpics app means saying yes to a lengthy terms-of-service agreement. The agreement, among other things, in intended to prohibit others from trying to access pictures that aren’t theirs. (In cases of abuse, Fanpics says they reserve the right to suspend the user and remove the photos). Fanpics also notes that in the future, it hopes to implement stronger privacy controls, including an opt-out feature that would allow users who do not want to be photographed to blur themselves from photos. No set date is given for these changes.