Augmented and Virtual Reality in Sports

The View from the Game

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have transformed numerous industries already. The sports industry is no exception. As the following examples demonstrate, the integration of augmented and virtual reality in sports has the potential to improve training, ease accessibility, create interactive fan communities, and more.

Virtual Reality in Sports: Golf Without the Driving Range

Like any sport, golf requires practice. That’s why golfers spend hours at their local driving range. Golfers need to practice their swings as often as possible to play their best on the course.

The problem is, not everyone has access to driving ranges. Golf memberships are expensive, and driving ranges remote, which is particularly true in big cities where space isn’t available. Maintaining a driving range also requires substantial resources, which isn’t ideal for the environment.

These are likely all key reasons why virtual reality driving ranges are becoming increasingly popular. Because virtual fields don’t require as much land as normal driving ranges, they are a more practical option in some parts of the world. Virtual driving ranges provide golfers with more opportunities to hone their skills.

Virtual Batting Practice, Used by Major League Baseball

Golf isn’t the only sport that’s easier to practice thanks to virtual reality technology. With virtual reality, batting practice is also accessible. It’s easier to practice baseball when you don’t need to have actual bats, balls, gloves, and diamonds.

Virtual batting appeals to major leagues as much as to the average player. Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers have used virtual reality sports to see simulations of how opponent teams might pitch. While not required, more teammates are beginning to make virtual batting practice a core component of their training regimens. This trend will likely continue as more and more teams experiment with virtual reality technology.

Augmented Reality in Sports: From the Stadium and Players’ POV

Amateur players and professional athletes are by no means the only ones to benefit from artificial reality and virtual reality applications in the sports industry. Major sports organizations have also begun using these technologies to provide fans with more dynamic experiences.

For instance, the MLB has developed a virtual reality sports app that allows app users in stands and bleachers to call up information about a player when he steps up to bat. Additionally, the NBA has begun broadcasting games in virtual reality. The NBA’s virtual reality broadcasts allow for a more immersive experience than a fan could have if they were watching the game on television. Since not everyone can get a ticket to see their favorite team play live, fans can watch the game through a virtual reality headset as the next best option.

Having the opportunity to watch a sports game through a VR headset when you can’t attend a live game appeals to many sports fans. However, that’s not the only way in which virtual reality is allowing fans to enjoy games in new and unique ways. Virtual reality startups have begun embedding small HD cameras into jerseys worn by professional athletes during tournaments. The goal is to allow fans to watch games from the perspective of the players on the field. The HD cameras can stream the players’ point of view from the front and the back of their jersey so that audiences follow a player’s every move. 

Augmenting Live Sports Broadcasts

Networks have begun leveraging augmented reality to improve the quality of sports broadcasts in a variety of ways. For instance, with augmented reality, it’s possible to superimpose virtual elements onto footage of games. Virtual features can include player statistics, slow-motion replays, trajectory paths of balls or pucks, celebratory imagery when a team scores, and much more.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Developers believe augmented reality may one day make it possible to superimpose alternate versions of plays onto the field during play reviews. Augmented reality sports can more vividly illustrate how a team might have scored had they chosen a different strategy. Instead of a commentator trying to explain to viewers, augmented reality recreations can show what the commentator describes. Augmented reality makes watching games more engaging.

The global sports industry was worth approximately $488.5 billion in 2018. It’s expected to reach $626.8 billion by 2023. Augmented reality and virtual reality experiences have the power to attract more fans, increasing these numbers as a result.

Your First Steps into Augmented and Virtual Reality in Sports

When it comes to sports, augmented and virtual reality is useful for spectators and athletes alike. Ormuco provides a virtualization platform with application containerization and automated workflows to ease the deployment of virtual resources for VR and AR. From a single interface, provision and manage data centers and edge computing nodes that run your graphics processing. We handle augmented and virtual reality workloads and can develop a software package for your sports training or broadcast needs.