Remote cheerer for the game Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan
Cheering for your favorite sports team can soon be as easy as tapping an app.
Yamaha Corporation is testing a new technology that fans can use to vocalize support for live gaming through an app. When fans watch a broadcast of a game, they can press a button to cheer, applaud, or start singing. The audio would be routed into a stadium's existing speaker systems. Yamaha said that each key will have a different variation of a real person's recorded voice.
"This actually has two advantages," Yuki Seto, the project manager, told CNBC through a translator. "For the fans, of course, that they can cheer … And the players know that people are still watching and the support is real and not just generating noise."
The patent pending software was first developed to give hospital patients, the elderly, and those with other responsibilities the opportunity to provide remote feedback on events. The company has since seen the coronavirus pandemic as a new opportunity as the sport resumes in the stands with few or no fans.
Yamaha is currently testing its remote fan skills with 26 professional soccer clubs and some baseball clubs in Japan, and hopes that this will give a sense of normalcy in the new reality of social distancing.
Yuki Seto is the project manager and is working with 26 soccer teams in Japan to test Yamaha's remote-controlled cheering system.
In June the project received its first test during a public game on television. The results were overwhelming as 65,000 users typed 1.9 million times, Seto said.
"We used it to blow up Twitter a bit," he said. "We were trendy."
In 29 games, Seto said, 300,000 users took part in the remote celebration with 18 million support actions.
The company says the players told them that they liked to feel the presence of fans and that they were motivated throughout the game.
"At some point during the system field test, I closed my eyes and it felt like the cheering fans were right in the stadium with me. Then I knew that this system had the potential to cheer on players in a stadium of great size," said Keisuke Matsubayashi , a member of Ogasayama Sports Park, in a statement.
Yamaha even claims that the teams' profit rates are increasing due to the noise.
According to OptaJoe, the winning rate for home teams in the Bundesliga before the coronavirus pandemic was 43.3% and fell to 16.6% when the stadiums became empty. A spokesman for Yamaha said that similar numbers have been observed in Japan and that long-distance cheer technology has been used in 29 soccer and baseball games, as of July 7 the win rate rose to 51.7%.
If you are wondering whether you can make "boo" or any other unique sound, according to Yamaha, it is up to each team to decide their skills.
While the technology is currently only being tested in Japan, the NBA could one day be a customer. The company said it met with U.S. basketball clubs interested in finding out how it could benefit them.
According to Shawn Quill, the market leader in the KPMG sports industry, remote cheering systems are the latest example of companies that take advantage of sports fans' desire to participate in the live sports experience, even if they cannot personally attend games. "COVID-19 has created conditions that further accelerate innovation and technology adoption in the sports industry," he said.
Yamaha said they will continue trying until the corona virus is under control. Once the situation is better controlled, they will work with the sports industry to find a profitable business model.
Fans can cheer on their teams with their smartphones and it will project the noise into the stadium.