We live in the age where we have moved beyond observing the world around us. More and more of us want to actively take part in all aspects of good life: professional career, physical fitness, quality time with friends and family, as well as compelling entertainment.
This eagerness and ‘‘I want it all attitude’’ transforms the world of sport around us. Not any more are we interested to be just fans at stadiums or in front of TV screens.
We want to take the bull by the horns and even rub shoulders with the most awesome athletes we adore and whose sport gear we would like to wear if possible. We used to be mesmerized by motivational commercials for sport apparel; we used to get autographs from sport gods and goddesses; we used to watch even some of them perform live. Now we are ready for the next level – immersive sport experiences that technology amplifies.
Thanks to Virtual and Augmented Reality every aspect of sport gets more interactive and deeper, so now we can train better with technology; we can be next on the court to the most fabulous team; we can engage in strategy and crisis management with our favourite coaches; or we can take the VIP entrance for the grand finale of the World Cup or Olympic Games.
Read on to learn how exactly VR and AR transform the field of sport:
- Teams can train for peak performance in VR.
To better understand this, let’s look at a routine of any top athlete. Not only trainings, but every other second of their life does prepare them for peak performance at a major competition. Athletes live through excellence with every breath they take so it is not a surprise at all when they repeat extraordinary results in front of thousands of fans.
In case you want to learn ins and outs of athletes’ peak performance and potentially apply it to your life, browse through Amazon’s bookshelf with top 100 Sport Psychology headlines.
Nowadays players and coaches can enhance their game with one extra strategy: they watch and repeat a particular sequence again and again in immersive VR environment.
STRIVR company promises such a compelling solution as their team creates VR trainings from the player’s perspective. Let’s say you are quarterback who wants to review his mistakes or teammates’ position during previous sequences and STRIVR services may help.
This VR service is also useful when injured players may still want to go through immersive content and psychological preparation or when college teams in NFL and college football want to ‘‘increase practice time without breaking the rules’’ such as this one by NCAA, ‘‘Teams are not allowed to practice full contact more than once a day.’’ As a result of carefully conducted strategy, STRIVR clients nowadays are 23 college and professional teams including the ones from NBA, NHL,WNBA and Major Baseball team.
EON Sports VR went also out of their own way and created ‘‘the most dynamic player development tool on the planet’’, called W.I.N. Series i.e. What’s Important Now? which provides ‘‘ultra-realistic experience, data performance tracking and analytics, and is scalable from phone to large, mixed reality environment.’’
- You can watch events from VR angle.
Some of the first kick-offs of VR coverage happened during Rio 2016 Olympic Games when audience could view content that NBC and BBC broadcasted with VR headsets that were available through apps.
At the moment, VR broadcasting is still in its infancy and we should definitely expect more VR content and fan activation during PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games and Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics especially after Intel signed a massive Olympics sponsorship deal this June that will be valid until 2024.
Intel’s strategic move indicates its eagerness to expand beyond microprocessor business and to leverage on the fact that three consecutive Olympic games will be held in Asia (from 2018-2022). According to Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich, “We’ll allow people online to feel like they are there.” In reality Intel promised to provide 5G wireless technology, virtual reality, artificial intelligence platforms, and drones that could be used during light shows or aerial filming.
Francisco Maroto, CEO of Oies Consulting who is also an IoT and telco expert, identified how connected athletes will impact the content we experience. The Connected athletes will enable their fans to track them ‘‘which will change the way sports are watched, coached, analysed and played. Sensors implanted in players’ clothes and tracking technology will allow fans to keep track of players to a precision of 5 cm, so as to detect and differentiate players in a pile.’’
- You can experience matches from players’ perspective.
Another fact that becomes obvious when we blend VR and sport is that fans can assume the position of their favourite athletes, which enhances the level of empathy and camaraderie as well as buzz around top performers.
For instance, EON Sports VR flirted with adrenaline rush of Miami Hurricane fans. They provided a complete behind-the-scenes content, interviews, highlights of Miami Hurricanes as if the D-day or game day is constantly happening.
Likewise, FirstV1sion, the Spanish startp offered the player perspective at major sport events as they embedded HD camera and microphone into athletes’ apparel. The extra value they created was integrating sensors which monitor player’s health statistics and relevant metrics.
Oculus went even a step further with their VR Sports Challenge. They decided to recreate epic scenes from users’ favourite sports and to bring top players and audience right next to them.
As Oculus team highlighted, this is how with VR Sports Challenge the game gets into your hands. ”You effortlessly perform throws, catches, pitches, swings, passes, jumpers, dunks, slapshots, saves, and more! Stadiums filled with rabid fans will hang on your every move, ready to curse your name for eternity or cheer you directly into the immortal halls of victory.”
- Go beyond pure pleasure – motivate yourself to play.
According to aforementioned EON Sports VR, the new reality for sport industry is apparent. Their marketing strategy indicates that they have two major focuses: to help athletes improve their performance, and to help content creators publish more easily in VR and AR. They actually want to encourage new training routines and healthier choices among ordinary people with busy schedules who still prioritize their health.
At ARVRtech we experienced the similar thing when we created a ski jump VR game which motivated people to try out skiing from a new perspective, while for some users it was an opportunity to overcome the fear of hights or skiing.
Zok Mounir, Director of Technology and Innovation at US Olympic Committee, explains his role in this interview, ‘‘I ensure athletes have what they need to give them a 1% competitive edge, which may increase their chance of winning medals in competitions.”
Likewise, we can find ways to optimize athletic performance using innovative technology and this may create a spillover effect for sport enthusiasts.
As Zok Mounir highlights ‘‘wearable technology offers many data points, but what do you do with it? Some devices on the market are too focused on the technology itself, rather than the user — they emphasize hard stats.’’ To create the best effect possible, the best devices whould “speak the athlete’s language,” telling them when to train, when to push hard, and when to rest.
- Social play – fans become acteurs whose opinions matter.
Finally, we should remember that professional sports are a deeply social challenge, where raving fans go through drama: fears, glory, victories and losess of their favourite teams.
For the purpose of the client Penn State, EON Sports VR created Lion Vision VR where raving fans get to see confidential practice, coaches’ motivational talks, as well as best close-ups of top moments on the track field. The growing library of content is available in 2D and 360 so far, yet it gets updated regularly.
Tech startup Virtually Live wants to incorporate the social component of VR. In this experience, stadium and players are showed virtually in almost real time, while fans can step into the game and interact. Each of the fans has an avatar and can interact with others through VoIP technology.
Virtually Live as well as AltSpaceVR, another growing company, intend to create the get-together experience of watching matches. They want to engage crowds of similar people through VR mechanisms. AltSpaceVR also adds the component of social via chatting and playing sport games.
As you can see, Virtual Reality is not here with us to replace live sport experience and trainings we take in person; it is out there with all hardware and software available to provide an add-on to what already exists. In years to come, our involvement in sport will go faster, higher and stronger and it is up to us to decide where technology fits our needs.
If you are interested that ARVRtech brings sport content in VR to your fans and clients, feel free to contact us.
Image: VR Focus