NHL debut Stanley Cup Experience in augmented reality

NHL debut Stanley Cup Experience in augmented reality

What’s it like to win the Stanley Cup? What’s it like to have your own day with it in the summer, studying it up close, taking it to different places and hoisting it over your head for unforgettable photos?

Now you can find out anytime, anywhere.

The NHL has created the Stanley Cup Experienceusing cutting-edge technology to create a near-perfect digital replica of the Cup.

With a computer, tablet or phone, you can zoom in and explore each engraving, scratch and dent. You can link to Records.NHL.com and dive deeply into history.

In augmented reality (AR) on your tablet or phone, you can set the Cup wherever you want for a photo or video. You can walk around it 360 degrees in 3D as if the actual trophy were right there. You can even peek inside the bowl.

Watch: Stanley Cup AR

With an AR social media filter on your phone, you can hoist the Cup over your head in front of any backdrop and post a photo or video on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. (The only question: Does the superstition about touching the Cup before you’ve won it extend from reality to augmented reality?)

“We have the most exciting and unpredictable postseason of all sports, so this is really our opportunity to enhance the excitement and add to the conversation with something fun and interactive,” NHL Chief Marketing Officer Heidi Browning said.

AR is an emerging technology and new territory for professional sports. Browning said the NHL has looked at many opportunities to incorporate AR and social media filters but was not satisfied with the experience until now. The NHL met with Dynamic Vision, a Calgary-based company that develops advanced and interactive 3D visualizations and simulation technologies, to identify a solution that delivers a best-in-class AR experience.

The Cup is a challenge to photograph because of its curved, mirror-like surface and minute details. At the NHL office in New York, it was placed on a pedestal that could rotate little by little, and the lighting was adjusted until it was just right.

Browning said it took 12 hours to photograph the Cup, and then it took more than 800 photographs and more than 200 hours to map it.

The bottom of the Cup — the bands with all the names, currently from the 1965-66 Montreal Canadiens to the 2020-21 Tampa Bay Lightning — is mainly photos stitched together. The neck and the bowl are a mix of photos stitched together and digital artistry done by hand.

Look closely, and you’ll see some engraving recreated as if it were done by letter stamps and some as if it were done by a tool dot by dot. You’ll see every little odd detail, like “1906” alone on the lip of the bowl. You’ll see all the errors, like “1980-81 NEW YORK ILANDERS.”

“We’ve never had any company take that level of interest in perfecting the Cup, and that’s why the product is so beautiful and impressive when you get to see it,” Browning said.

In the digital hub for your computer, tablet or phone, when you hover over a team, the correct logo for that time period appears. Click on it in a blue bar above, and you link to Records.NHL.com and a page about that team.

The NHL created the website as part of its centennial celebration in 2017 and has added hundreds of new pages about the Cup itself, the championship teams and the results.

“We’re still finding unique and innovative ways to use this site,” Browning said. “We know that our fans are perhaps the most knowledgeable and passionate fans in all of sport, and this provides them the ability to put their knowledge, skills and curiosity to test by drilling down in the history and the stats.”

In AR mode for your tablet or phone, the Cup always sits upright. With the AR social media filter, the Cup is always over your head. Of course, there is a selfie option. The filters are native to instagram, Facebook and TikTok and can be accessed directly on each of the three platforms by visiting @NHL.

The NHL plans to update the digital replica of the Cup with the new winners each year, and it hopes to expand the project to all its other trophies in the future.

Browning said the NHL’s mission is to serve avid fans and reach new fans, and the League hopes this technology bridges the two.

“We’re always trying to drive more fan engagement and conversation, especially among younger fans who seek innovation and the opportunity to share their fandom in unique ways,” Browning said. “The Stanley Cup AR Experience allows fans to place the Cup into any environment and share with their friends. Additionally, fans can Hoist the Cup, which is something only champions can. The social filters are native to those platforms, making it easy for fans to share with their followers. It’s easy to use, easy to share and a lot of fun.

“Really, we’re also providing all fans the opportunity to admire the intricate details of the Cup, something that they may never see close up and in real life, and this is a near-perfect replica of the Cup down to the scratches and the teeth in the Cup. So, it’s a pretty incredible experience.”


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