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Apple's 3D video cameras spotted during NBA Slam Dunk Contest

A 3D camera with the 2024 NBA Slam Dunk Contest judges [Youtube/House of Highlights]

Owners of the Apple Vision Pro may get a lot more basketball content to watch using the headset, with the NBA Slam Dunk Contest offering a close look at a camera used to capture the immersive video.

One of the key selling points of the Apple Vision Pro is its ability to display stereoscopic content, 3D video that is also referred to as immersive video or Spatial Video. Now, it seems that the Apple Vision Pro could get footage sourced from the NBA viewable the same way.

In a clip of the first-round highlights from the 2024 NBA Slam Dunk Contest tipped by @lujahehe on X, an unusual camera is displayed next to the judges. The camera isn't mentioned or used at all during the broadcast nor particularly highlighted by the camera, but it happens to appear fairly prominently in the frame.

A close-up of the 3D camera
A close-up of the 3D camera

The camera takes the form of a stationary box with two lenses on the front, a few inches apart and horizontally level with each other. With this arrangement, it seems unlikely that it could be for anything but stereoscopic 3D video capture.

While the camera doesn't offer any real indications that it is an Apple-related device, there are a number of previous instances when a link between the NBA and the Apple Vision Pro was confirmed.

More NBA for AVP

After the Apple Vision Pro's introduction during WWDC 2023, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed plans to bring basketball to the headset. "We are working closely with Apple," Silver explained, with reports suggesting that the collaboration was to help reimagine the courtside experience.

On February 2, the release date for the Apple Vision Pro, Silver and Apple CEO Tim Cook met to discuss a new app for the headset and the future of the at-home fan experience, reports Sportico. While the bulk of the talk included how the NBA app could play up to five games on virtual screens, there was some discussion of immersive video.

Silver confirmed that the NBA was looking into how to add the specialized cameras for capturing 3D video into its event plans, with the All-Star Weekend being the first opportunity.

"This is in many ways better than sitting courtside," Silver claimed. "It can take you anywhere on the floor. It can give you the perspective of a player This will, to me, be how people over time experience sports."

However, there are some issues to work out before full games could be broadcast in the format, not least the expense and restrictions of production, and the use of special cameras developed by Apple.

"It'll take rethinking about production," said Cook at the time. "You will have to re-engineer everything, but it's so worth it."