A new Japanese smartphone app will allow fans to send virtual cheers and boos to sports stadiums in hopes of creating an atmosphere in matches played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus.
Instrument maker Yamaha said its remote animation system will allow users to tap the app’s buttons to cheer, or boo, through dozens of speakers located within the grounds.
Event organizers can preset various types of cheers and taunts, and change intensity levels depending on the number of users pressing their buttons, in order to replicate the roar when a goal or home run is scored.
Even when a live audience is allowed, fans can still use the app to prevent potentially laden coronavirus drops from flying through the air through screaming.
They can choose which side of the stadium to send their chosen joy or mockery to, and they can remotely join the chants that only designated users can start.
The company originally planned to launch the app later this year, but accelerated its development after the coronavirus forced it to cancel sporting events or play them without fans.
Yamaha said a recent test of the system in a 51,000-seat stadium produced sound similar to that of a live crowd.
The firm deployed 58 speakers at the Ecopa stadium and invited officials from the Jubilo Iwata and Shimizu S Pulse soccer teams to send cheers and boos remotely.
“I feel that this system will encourage players on the field by making them feel that their fans and supporters are close,” Jubilo business strategy officer Hiromi Yanagihara said in a statement issued via Yamaha.
The firm said the system can also be used in the future by those who cannot attend games.
Yahama spokesman Kenji Arakawa said the app could be used for other events and that they were receiving inquiries from multiple fields.
“This could be used in music concerts, theaters, or comedy shows. Especially in comedy acts, audience reaction is essential, “said Arakawa.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently lifted the state of emergency for the entire nation, but still urged organizers of major events to be cautious in preventing new infections.
Japan’s professional baseball teams are preparing to start their new season behind closed doors starting in June, three months after the original time.
The soccer J-League kicked off the season for a February weekend before suspending it, and local media speculate that the season will reopen in late June or early July, with the first games likely to be played without fanatics.