World Chess, the organizer of the World Chess Championship cycle events, has been on a mission to make chess a spectator sport for the past few years. It introduced 3D streaming, sound-proof players' studio at the Championship Match in New York City.
Today World Chess is announcing that it will introduce biometrics into the next World Chess Championship broadcasting, subject to approval by FIDE and the chess players.
It’s perhaps the biggest single innovation to the chess broadcasting since introduction of evaluation engines and it brings chess closer to sports broadcasting, giving spectators not only an opportunity to see the game, but also to follow players' real feelings and mood changes (at least based on pulse data).
According to joint World Chess’ and FIDE’s Interface resolution, filed last week, the players will be asked to wear a device, a bracelet or a special watch that will track players' pulse and other biometric indicators and transmit them in real time for broadcasting. The players, who never had to wear such devices in the past, will have to approve the initiative before it’s implemented, but both World Chess and FIDE hope that players will like the idea as they are interested in turning chess into a spectator sport.
Ilya Merenzon, World Chess’ Chief Executive, said: “Chess matches can be very dramatic, and biometric data gives fans and spectators alike another opportunity to follow the games and relate to them on much deeper level. It’s not enough to know what the next best move is anymore: you have to know wha the grandmaster is thinking. This makes watching the games so much more exciting. This is also one of our efforts to develop the premium broadcasting experience and bring value to chess fans”.
In his interview to Afisha.ru, the World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen said that he likes the idea of biometric data: "I am not against the sensors. There is nothing insulting or strange it in. And the audience will probably enjoy how the players heart rate is increasing and whatever else that can be measured".
The device and software, currently under development by World Chess, will seek approval by the FIDE anti-cheating commission and ensure that it cannot be accessed or hacked. If players approve use of biometric data in chess broadcasting, it will be made a permanent part of the World Chess Championship broadcasting service. The data will also be supplied to media partners, including NRK TV and Match TV as well as shown online on worldchess.com.