Attendees try out Realmax Augmented Reality (AR) glasses at the Realmax booth at CES 2020 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sports leagues are turning to technology to bring fans closer to the game even when physically far away.
Facebook explores how the National Basketball Association’s seat at court can be better mimicked in virtual reality Major League Baseball is improving its stats to prepare for more augmented reality offerings.
However, it is not clear whether consumers are ready to move into a market that researchers estimate could contribute to growth before the pandemic the world economy by $ 1.5 trillion.
“There are still a few things missing to be successful,” said Nicolas Avila, chief technology officer for information technology and services company Globant.
In order to keep fans busy during the pandemic, the sports leagues used more digital offers such as virtual spaces in the courtyard and Partnership with social media Companies like Snapchat and Facebook to create AR experiences.
The experiences helped motivate the fans, but sports clubs eventually want to make money from those experiences, especially VR that immerses viewers in a computer-generated 360-degree scene.
Avila estimates that is still years away. He found that devices that support the high bandwidth 5G connectivity required for high definition mobile VR experiences are just emerging. VR experiences are meant to emulate the real world as well, and today’s devices cannot meet those expectations.
“We are still in the experimental phase,” said Avila. “But just out of the blue we’ve had a surge in gaming experiences … the same will happen with VR.”
Although Facebook recently launched a new generation of Oculus VR devices and discussed adding more VR NBA games next season. The company said better camera lenses would be needed to truly reproduce the seating experience in the square.
Rob Shaw, Facebook director for global sports media and league partnerships, said the company was “at the early stages of figuring out how to create this better front-row seating experience.”
Shaw said Facebook is not close to monetizing the VR offering and will make it a “priority if we are comfortable about the experience and enough people walk through the virtual doors to experience it.”
Facebook wants to make its VR courtside games financially sustainable for the NBA, so they see this as an additional source of income.
“We believe it is a premium experience for the masses,” said Shaw. “There needs to be ways brands want to enable these types of experiences, and there may be a willingness to pay for subscriptions.”
At the same time, fans still attend live games even during a pandemic, which shows that there is a demand for live events after Covid-19. VR will be tough to compete with.
“We haven’t caught up with the alternative of an enhanced experience,” added Avila. “As long as you are competing with a game that you can watch, it will never be the same.”
Attendees wearing RealMax 100 augmented reality glasses reach for objects in an AR game on the final day of CES 2019 on January 11, 2019 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images
Technical experts believe that AR experiences, where computer generated images are superimposed on real images, will come first.
Stuart Burden, a senior software engineer at Nerdery digital management consultancy specializing in AR, points out that users don’t need special hardware to gain a basic AR experience – it’s available today on iPhones and iPads, for example.
“One reason is that everyone has devices and people are investing in them.”
Burden recalled a demo of the NBA’s AR experience through partnering with AR company Magic Leap, which allowed fans to see highlights across multiple screens in their field of vision. Although Magic Leap failed to deliver the technology it promised and has seen layoffs and reorganizations, dedicated AR devices are still an area of interest for large tech companies, from Snap to Microsoft.
“They don’t place a product unless they want to make it a part of your life,” Avila said. “In a way, I see them closer to Siri – they won’t be there if you don’t call them.”
If fans prefer AR glasses, MLB is ready: The league is monitoring how Apple develops the devices to use them Hawk Eye Statistics track and convert the information into AR experiences.
“We’d love to see a leader demonstrate this experience from a platform perspective, and then we can bring in that content and all of the massive data and analysis,” he said Jason Gaedtke, MLB’s chief technology officer. “We can humanize the technology a little.”
MLB released a demo at the 2017 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference that showed the ability to overlay its stats and analytics for AR shows and spot potential.
“There are still a lot of interesting use cases that we look forward to later,” said Johnny Wey, senior vice president of client software engineering at MLB. “We try to adjust to it when these things get really meaningful in people’s lives. It’s not quite there yet.”
Avila said advances in artificial intelligence over the next few years would help enrich AR offerings. Five years from now, technology companies should better understand how to “find the place for these technologies”.
“But most of the things we envision over the next five years are probably not what will happen in the end because I think we will learn a lot about what affects a consumer over the next two years,” he said .