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Thursday, January 14, 2010
Inventor brings Wii to field level


Dan LaRue is an engineer who has invented new products in the radio business, computer securities and satellite tracking.

All boring, he says, compared to his newest invention: the eCoinToss.

Irked that the first official act of every game was experienced only by the people standing at midfield, he set out to invent a fake coin with more tech gadgetry than a Nintendo Wii.

No, really.

"Although the Wii wasn't out yet, it was the same problem," LaRue said. "How do you track tilt of the hand? I had to deal with the flight dynamics of the coin -- toss, height and spin rate. Uses the same technology and data, but we had to process it differently."

Yeah, what he said. And to make all that data actually useful to anyone, he had to project a virtual representation to television broadcasts and stadium JumboTrons in real time. Observe.

LaRue hopes for sponsorship deals since he's able to project any image he wants to represent the coin (forget heads or tails; think Coke or Diet Coke). Of course, from a business perspective, this makes sense.

But we're excited about the technological potential. LaRue says his company could insert similar technology into footballs and shoulder pads, which could relay tremendous real-time information to viewers about the trajectory of a pass or the force of a hit.

Whereas, for years, virtual video games have tried desperately to be more real, this could mark a shift in the complete opposite direction -- the real game becoming more virtual.

Alas, all we have right now is eCoinToss. But for those nerdy pigskin fans out there, it's a promising sign of things to come.