Women's tennis tourney serving up high tech | July 22, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 22, 2011

Women's tennis tourney serving up high tech

Despite being in its 41st year, the Bank of the West Classic women's tennis tournament will have something new to offer when it returns to Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center next week.

CrowdOptic, a new Silicon Valley technology company, has joined with the Bank of the West Classic to form a partnership that will allow the tournament to launch a new mobile technology to enhance the viewing experience for its live event spectators.

The new technology from CrowdOptic will allow the spectators in the stands to see real-time information about the players displayed on their smartphones while they snap photos of the players moving around the court. Fans will be able to receive a range of information about the players including coaching tips, up-to-the-moment statistics, and special offers from the event producers.

The Bank of the West Classic is the first women's stop of the Olympus US Open Series and the longest running women's-only tennis tournament in the world. The event, which is owned and operated by IMG, will now also be the setting for the debut in sports of "augmented reality" technology.

The CrowdOptic system senses when concentrations of users in the crowd are pointed at the same player and who they are looking at; this allows the Bank of the West Classic to broadcast relevant information to all the phones that are pointed at the same player at any given moment.

"We are continually looking for new ways to improve the fan experience at the Bank of the West Classic while exploring new technologies developed in our own back yard," said Kim Hall, Bank of the West Classic Tournament Director. "We are pleased to be offering this new technology from CrowdOptic that will allow our guests to have the most up-to-the moment tournament information at their fingertips, right from their own mobile device."

The CrowdOptic application will be available at the Bank of the West Classic on both Android and iPhone platforms. It includes fully integrated photo-sharing capabilities that let the spectators capture the augmented reality information in their photos automatically and share it online through social networking sites.

"Augmented reality, which is traditionally based on static environments, is taking a big step forward with moving objects in live action, said Brent Iadarola, Global Program Director for Frost & Sullivan's Mobile & Wireless Communications Group.

Ian Sobieski, Band of Angels investor in CrowdOptic, said that "Our group of more than 120 former and current high-tech executives has seen a lot of mobile technology come and go, but CrowdOptic is something different. The technology lets you use your phone to track moving athletes and tell you exactly what you want to know about them - right at the moment you want to know."

CrowdOptic is a privately-held company based in San Francisco, CA, and co-founded by entrepreneur Jon Fisher. For more information, visit www.crowdoptic.com.

The 2011 Bank of the West Classic gets under way Monday and runs through July 31. Qualifying will be held Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., and is free and open to the public. Tickets for the tournament are on sale at: www.BankoftheWestClassic.com.

NOTES: The Bank of the West Classic has partnered with Kepler's Books to host a book reading of "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success" featuring an appearance by former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic on Sunday, July 24 at 3 pm. The book reading will include a shortened version of the story read by retired WTA player Peanut Harper, followed by a Q&A session with Ivanovic where she will share her own personal definition of success. "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success" is an award winning children's book written by legendary basketball coach oach John Wooden. The book's themes are the foundation for the Bank of the West Classic's Family Day, where children can learn and put into practice these important life skills via interactive tennis games and drills at the "Inch and Miles Sportsmanship Festival." Family Day will return this year on Saturday, July 30 through the support of the Harper for Kids foundation. Each Family Day participant will receive his or her very own copy of "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success," a poster of Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success, a T-shirt and snacks. Children ages 6 to 11 years old can participate in Family Day for just $25 with a choice of attending an earlier session beginning at 11 am or a later session beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets to Family Day do not include admission to the Saturday tennis matches. All Family Day proceeds go directly to the Harper for Kids foundation. For more information: www.BankoftheWestClassic.com or contact Whitney Collins at whitney.collins@imgworld.com or (415) 227 8027.


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