At a Yankees-Athletics game earlier this week, 13-year-old Nick LeGrande threw out the ceremonial first pitch as the sun quickly faded behind Oakland Coliseum. It’s been done a thousand times—a staple of the game’s history—but not like this. LeGrande wasn’t even inside the stadium, nor in the same state. Instead, he was some 1,800 miles away at a mini baseball field constructed by Google at its Kansas City offices near LeGrande’s home. History was made.
By combining a telerobotic pitching machine and Google’s lightning quick Fiber technology, LeGrande was able to experience the next best thing to actually being down on a major league field. It’s essentially like the coolest Google Hangout in the world.
The robot was setup on the actual pitcher’s mound inside the Oakland Coliseum, which LeGrande controlled through motion detecting technology back at his mini Kansas City diamond. Through Fiber, LeGrande was able to get a view of home plate through a camera mounted to the robot, and when he threw his pitch back home, the robot did the same inside the stadium.
The effort was a result of the Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, and what Google described as a way for Fiber to better impact lives. We couldn’t think of a better way to put such an up-and-coming technology to good use. Because of a rare blood disorder, known as aplastic anemia, LeGrande’s immune system is severely weakened, making him unable to attend games, or even play with other kids his age. This was the only possible way he could get involved. Very cool.
Check out the four minute video above. The story is great, and perfectly exemplifies how technology can enrich and better the lives of people all around the world.