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The Rarefied Art Of Fencing Explained With NFL-Style Graphics

On guard! Fencing just got a whole lot more interesting.

Do you remember that moment when hockey got the spotlighted puck? Or when the NFL got the first down marker? Or when baseball got the Mario Baseball makeover? Graphics have an ability not just to give us a more nuanced experience of sports on TV, but to appreciate each micro-moment of athleticism and strategy even more than we might in person.

And now, fencing may be next. In this proof of concept by Tokyo's Dentsu Lab, the studio fitted the Épées—the weapons used by fencers—with motion-tracking balls, and embedded competitors' suits with pressure-sensitive sensors. The data turns the blurry, blink-once-and-you-miss-it sport of fencing into a slow motion, light-painted ballet.

From what we can tell, the system here requires serious post production work. But were someone to make the investment—say, NBC before the Summer Olympics—there’s no reason we couldn’t have some level of this visualization today (if, perhaps, only in replays). And I, for one, would watch a lot more fencing (read: any fencing at all) if only all points awarded with large, fireworks-style bursts exploding from the chests of Olympians.

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