Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Sports: Revolutionizing the Fan Experience

augmented reality and virtual reality in sports, ar vr in sports

Modern technology brings a host of benefits for consumers to better engage with things they like.  Soon, fans will be able to enjoy their favorite matchups and events in a whole new way thanks to augmented reality in sports.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in sports each boast several benefits that, when leveraged correctly, will allow viewers and event attendees to engage with teams while at venues, on the go, or at home using their smart devices and wearable tech.

Throughout this piece, we’re going to discuss some of the ways that venues and digital sports products, like mobile sports apps, can unlock value by integrating these technologies for their fans.

How AR & VR in Sports Will Enhance the Fan Experience

Delivering an effective solution using either AR or VR in sports means researching users to create objectives and define business goals that resonate with audiences. It’s not quite as simple as identifying a neat new feature and putting development teams to work – still, knowing some of the possible solutions for integrating virtual reality or augmented reality in sports  should help inspire those looking to enrich the user experience.

1) Sports Fan Cam AR Filters & Overlays Can Be a Lot of Fun

Even for those who don’t live on social media or fill up device storage space with selfies, filters and overlays like those found in Snapchat can be a lot of fun. And, they represent an innovative way to incorporate AR in sports.

Like Snapchat, creating themed overlays and filters for different events throughout gives users something to look forward to and try. Image from Snapchat

By offering filters and overlays for live or pre-recorded videos, fans can create unique media using these AR functions that can be shared on social media, or even queued up to display on the stadium's big screen.

Spectators geo-fenced in a stadium environment can have access to unique visualizations that allow them to create memorable media to flex their fandom and share with their followers if they choose.

Though displaying live, user-recorded videos with other attendees will require content moderation, this use of augmented reality in sports gives both fans and those who simply find joy in attending sporting events with friends or family (like those with kids who don’t share the same enthusiasm for a team’s performance) something fun to do at the stadium.

2) Treasure Hunts for Hidden AR Experiences in Sports Venues

As we implied in the previous point, many attendees at sporting events are there for the stadium experience as much or more than the main event. Both fans and casual attendees can find fun and value when AR in sports is used to further explore the venue and find hidden experiences while taking in the scenery.

Disney has been doing this as well – the same principles can work to help engage fans and attendees at sporting events.

For example, pointing your camera at that little-known plaque at Gillette Stadium commemorating Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl win could deliver a VR overlay with a message from Tom, unlock his jersey for use as a filter, or even display a short clip of the Super Bowl win celebration.

Hidden AR elements at a venue can further be gamified, such as entering users who complete a treasure an opportunity to win a prize, or perhaps connecting participants with deals at participating vendors.

Other uses for this type of augmented reality in sports can include an onscreen map: users who become separated could pull up an onscreen navigation using secure location sharing to help those who become separated find each other with waypoints that take into account the unique shape and verticality of a venue.

3) Live Casts of Officiate Cameras & VR Replay

Virtually every sports fan will find times they disagree with a call made by an official on the field. While slow-motion replays can help get to the bottom of tough calls, 3D recording and live casts can present a whole new way to view a game with virtual reality in sports.

In 2017, Fox promoted this technology for Super Bowl LI to offer fans a whole new way to rewatch plays with VR, whether to relive a fantastic play or dissect a seemingly “bad call.”

With proper recording technology, replays in VR can allow users to access different angles and viewpoints, much like manipulating a camera in a video game.

Fans at home can use compatible VR headsets while venues can offer kiosks or rooms equipped with devices for attendees to use. In time, such devices could provide recorded views from players, allowing users to enjoy an entirely new experience using virtual reality in sports, with a first-person view of a player’s game-winning catch, moments before the clock expires.

4) Offering More Viewing Angles & Data with AR

VR isn’t for everyone, but providing access to multiple camera views and additional overlays containing customizable data fields is a dream for fans who love to know the numbers and a great use of augmented reality and virtual reality in sports.

Similar to this solution from Telemetry for compatible devices, racers can add an overlay to video using information collected from various motorsports data loggers.

Upcoming solutions can allow fans to access and add overlays to AR and mixed reality headsets like Apple’s new Vision Pro or the Microsoft HoloLens to provide custom datasets in real-time or on top of recorded video. Available data can be added to provide more depth to player and ball movement, or even display field and weather conditions - this approach to using AR or VR in sports offers more depth to the experience than ever before.

Headsets and regular smart device apps can also enjoy this advantage of augmented reality in sports by providing multiple additional views. All that’s needed is to allow users to access active cameras in real-time (or during recordings) to get different viewpoints on the fly. This will prove highly beneficial to those who score great mid-field tickets but want a different vantage point when teams near the end zone without leaving seats to get a better view.

Let Studio Build Your AR in Sports Experience

Both AR and VR have immense applications for sporting events, big and small. Building an effective solution that leverages augmented reality or virtuality in sports requires diving into the details to understand users and create the best possible UX.

Get in touch with Studio to learn more about how we can elevate your product with fun new features that AR and VR can offer to sports fans!

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