February 2, 2023

Fans can scan a QR code to toggle between the four concepts and choose to see art, data, or both.Courtesy of the Miami Heat

For anyone who thinks a basketball pick and roll is a work of art, the Miami Heat took it literally.

A week ago Saturday night, the team unveiled a digital installation at the Miami-Dade Arena that uses artificial intelligence and fiber optic technology to create generative, abstract art based on passes, player motion, shot charts and jersey numbers.

Not only is it a burgeoning form of NBA fan interaction powered by AT&T, but the accompanying QR codes also make it interactive. It’s the first AI to arrive at the Miami arena since the original AI (Allen Iverson), and the kinetic art renderings allow fans to see analysis of NBA basketball in animation.

“It’s the whole new breed of ‘heat map,’ pun intended, to visualize the team’s offense,” says Rachel Garber, the team’s senior account manager of partnership marketing.

The concept is called Connected Canvas, which relies on the speed and connectivity of AT&T Fiber to take custom datasets – like a player’s stats from beyond the 3-point arc – and turn them into an alternating art activation. The Heat’s business and marketing teams have been working on the project since 2021, partly because of its formal relationship with AT&T and partly because, according to Garber, they wanted to create a “wow moment for Miami.”

The rollout took place on Saturday evening, January 14th at the AT&T East Plaza, which is located in the Arena Hall and offers a majestic view of Biscayne Bay and the cruise ships docked thereon. The Heat installed three Connected Canvas panels there, each measuring approximately 4′ x 9′, offering four digital art options to curious fans.

Her first step was to scan a QR code on the board, which allowed fans to switch between the four concepts and choose whether they wanted to see art, data, or both.

Concept #1 happened to be the HEAT map, which uses AI to record all Heat players’ shots over the course of past matches with animations that evolve in color and size as players earn points. In other words, the data view is a high-tech shot chart, while the art view is the AI ​​rendering of the HEAT map.

“So let’s say the player is warming up with — no pun intended — their shots, it turns dark red,” says Garber. “And then when the area turns yellow-green, the shots in the game kind of lag behind. All of this data comes from our NBA league partnership through AT&T and The Heat. And that’s how we can represent it on the digital board.”

Concept #2 is the Game Flow view, which includes the Miami Heat’s fast offense and their fast ball movements or pick and roll plays. The end result is a kinetic piece of sand art displayed via two large, vertically stacked spheres that match the colors of the team’s various jersey tops.

And concept #3 is just that: the jerseys. Dubbed the Jersey Mashup Machine, fans use their smartphones to enable motion tracking. They can select a jersey type – a pink Miami Vice City Edition jersey or a championship gold jersey or a Miami Floridas retro jersey – and see it simulated on the board as if they were wearing the jersey themselves. If they hop left, the artwork goes left. And vice versa if they run out to the right.

“So what’s showing on your phone is mirrored on the digital board,” says Garber. “And with that, the large 3D number that’s displayed during this concept moves with you. So there is a motion camera. If you are in front of the camera and want to move from side to side or back and forth, the number will move with you. So the fan is almost part of the board.”

One of the AI ​​art concepts available for fans is the Game Flow view, which includes the Miami Heat’s fast offense and their quick ball movements or pick and roll plays.Courtesy of the Miami Heat

The fourth concept is a forthcoming Cultural Tides activation that showcases what Garber calls “Miami’s hidden gem neighborhoods, from South Beach to downtown to Hialeah.” The AI ​​takes the work of local photographers and turns them into rotating works of art to celebrate Miami’s diverse communities.

The focus is on Heat’s partnership with AT&T, the club’s 5G innovation partner, which sponsors the team’s mobile app, social features and small business accelerator program.

The Connective Canvas artwork is a result of that relationship and a clear message that an NBA team and a corporate partner can use AI to make the game as aesthetic as it is on the court.

And no, not Allen Iverson.

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