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(Pocket-lint) - EE welcomed some football stars and members of the public recently to take part in a virtual Foosball tournament. The experience used Samsung Galaxy S21 phones and EE’s 5G network at Wembley Stadium.

"We’re playing 3D graphics directly onto the Wembley pitch, tracked seamlessly, so two people can play 1 vs 1 using their devices, all in real-time," explains James Murray from production company Unit 9.

"The huge challenge is the reliability and speed to do this in real-time. Not only do we need to ensure that all of the graphics track to the real-life environment, but we’ve also got to ensure that both players share the experience at the same time so it’s completely synchronised. A game will fall short if the experience isn’t equally matched."


Alongside England manager Gareth Southgate other players Joe Cole, Fara Williams, Chelcee Grimes, Yungen, James Haskell, Ugo Monye, Lia Lewis were involved as well as Peter Crouch. We were able to ask Crouch why he wanted to get involved with the tournament: 

"We are now welcoming fans back to Wembley, it’s exciting and a chance to come down and play Foosball with a twist against Gareth which is good. Although I was terrible, I can’t believe I was so bad; I reckon if I didn’t move at all I’d have done better!

"With the foosball I’ve played before, I understand how it works more than this but I’m not amazing at real foosball either, to be honest with you."

How easy did you find it to play on the phone? "Oh super easy to play! It’s a really good game and super easy to set up. I’ve got 4 children who are all quite young, so fitting in gaming is hard. I don’t play as much as I’d like to at all.

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We also asked the tech experts how difficult it was to stage the virtual tournament: "This was achieved live, and for real - there is no test network installed for the event," explained Darren Teague, Specialist Technology Partner at EE in answer to our questions

"The AR Foosball is played across the live public 5G network installed inside the stadium – the very same that is used by fans, staff, players and the general public."

The public can't currently play the game, but it is in live testing as part of the AR experience tested in the EE hospitality boxes at Wembley. 

What were the challenges in bringing it to life? "Low latency is critical to achieving a fully immersive experience and to avoid game ‘glitches’. Just imagine getting beat because of buffering!

"We have been working to fully optimise the network coverage inside the stadium to achieve the latency and bandwidth needed for optimum experiences like these."

Finally, Peter Crouch on whether Wembley is the best football stadium in the world. "Yes, I grew up round here and I remember the twin towers and history and everything behind it and now it’s been converted into what it deserves. It’s such a special place anyway but now it’s got the facilities as well, so YES best stadium in the world."

Writing by Dan Grabham.
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