The National Basketball Association (NBA) will use Microsoft Team’s new Together mode to enable innovative court-side experiences for fans. From 30 July, each game court will feature 17-foot-tall LED screens that will show virtual audiences brought together into a shared background using artificial intelligence (AI) within Together mode.
Building on the partnership that the NBA and Microsoft established in April to realise new fan experiences, the organisations will now enable fans to watch a live feed of the game within Teams, alongside their fellow fans.
“Using scientific principles of cognition and social perception, Together mode is more than a virtual background – it makes being together virtually actually feel like being together in person,” Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, wrote in a recent blog post about the announcement. “It’s easy to maintain natural eye contact, for instance, or register fellow participants’ emotions as they react to what’s happening.”
This is the first of the partnership’s experiences to go live and, according to Spataro, will give “participating fans the feeling of sitting next to one another at a live game without leaving the comfort and safety of their homes”, as well as providing players will the support of fans while on the court.
“We are excited to partner with Microsoft to virtually incorporate NBA fans into our season restart,” said Sara Zuckert, head of next gen telecast at NBA. “This unique live game experience will allow fans to maintain a sense of community as they watch their favourite teams and players.“