The finesse dribbling, pinpoint passes, powerful kicks, saves at the net and diehard fans are some of the facets that make soccer the world's most-popular sport — one that more than warrants 3D viewing to fully bring those thrilling plays to life.

MIT seemed to think so, too, working with the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) to develop a system that automatically converts 2D video of soccer games into 3D. They debuted the system at the Association for Computing Machinery's Multimedia conference last week. According to MIT News, by exploiting video-game software, MIT and QCRI combined to broadcast 3D video of soccer games in real time.

MIT researchers say once the video is converted, it can be played back over any 3D device — whether Google's Cardboard, an Oculus Rift headset or a commercial 3D television.

About the latter, though, just because a TV supports 3D viewing, doesn't mean that there's available content for it. That gave MIT and QCRI extra incentive to convert 2D video of soccer games into 3D.

"Any TV these days is capable of 3D," Wojciech Matusik, an MIT associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and a system co-developer, told MIT News. "There's just no content. So we see that the production of high-quality content is the main thing that should happen. But sports is very hard. With movies, you have artists who paint the depth map. Here, there is no luxury of hiring 100 artists to do the conversion. This has to happen in real-time."

The automatic 2D to 3D video conversion is pretty impressive to see, as this video below suggests. Just imagine how the World Cup would look in 3D and what that kind of viewing experience would be like for fans around the globe.

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