Depending on your perspective, this is either really sad for baseball, really awesome for technological innovation, or both.
A Korean baseball team, the Hanwha Eagles, has been struggling with fan attendance for the past five years. Apparently, the team has lost over 400 games in that timeframe. In order to get people excited about attending their games again, they are going to let fans attend from home. Wait, what?
Fans have gone from staring at their screens to BECOMING screens.
Now, the Eagles, whose fans have sympathetically been dubbed the "Buddhist Saints," will allow people to “attend” games through the use of a telepresence robot. People will be able to control a robot over the internet that can chant, cheer, and even do the wave. Users can even upload a photo of themselves to the robot’s screen so they can be seen by actual attendees.
Would you pay to look this cool?
The owners of the Korean baseball team hope that this will encourage people to attend who otherwise wouldn’t be able to make it out to the stadium. Now they can do so via the robot, which in theory should help increase attendance numbers.
No word on if the stadium will provide the robots with their own smart phones so that they can text and check email while they are watching the game, or if they will charge the robot $20 for parking and $10 for a beer. Either way, you might want to think twice before getting into a drunken brawl with another fan at the game, as you might end up having to fight a Terminator.
Perhaps sometime soon stadiums will be able to pack in thousands of telepresence robots, and allow users to connect them to a virtual reality system like Oculus Rift. Then people would be able to “attend” the Super Bowl or the World Series from afar and feel like they were actually sitting in the stadium.
He could be a robot right now.
If you want to cheat the system, just have one person pay for a ticket and actually attend the game, and then pull out their iPhone and Skype in their friends.
He is dreaming of watching a baseball game as a telepresence robot.
What do you guys think? Will “telepresence” robot-fans catch on, or are they just strapping an iPad to a seat and trying to make it sound a lot cooler than it really is?
Follow Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney