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Korean Baseball Team Fills Stands with Robot Fans
Fans watching at home can control the in-stadium robots, waving, cheering and holding up LED signs.
By Kari Paul, Mashable - Filed Aug 06, 2014

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A Korean baseball team that's down on its luck has found a new way to fill seats at games: robot fans.

The Hanwha Eagles recently unveiled robot proxies called "fanbots," which enable fans to watch and cheer at games remotely.

Based in the city of Daejeon, the Eagles have lost more than 400 games in the last five years, according to the BBC, but persistent fans have earned the nickname "Stone Buddhas" for their steadfast commitment to the team. The Eagles wanted to find a way to harness their considerable online support, and translate it into real-life games by filling more stadium seats.

"[Fans] who cannot come to the stadium watch the game on the web or on their phones, and cheer through commenting online and via sns," the promotional YouTube video says. "What if there was a robot cheering for those fans?"

To bridge that gap, the team created robots that can be controlled by fans at home. The "world's first cheering robots" fill three rows of the stadium, and wear Eagles baseball caps and jerseys.

The machines are programmed to do the wave, cheer and chant. The bots also hold up LED screens with messages such as "Go Eagles!" or "I Love You, Eagles." Fans can also send custom messages to be displayed on the screens during the game. They can even upload selfies, so their photos appear as the fanbot's face. The robots even encourage real-life fans in the stadium to cheer "at important moments" in the game, according to the YouTube video.

"I like the fact that I can send messages even when I am not in the ballpark or not watch the game on TV." Kim Seung-bi, a 26-year-old Eagles fan said, according to the Korea Bizwire. "I am proud of being an Eagles fan, as the club has pioneered the world’s first all-digital cheerleading troops."


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