Interactive smart technologies enhance sport experience

mixed reality

This article by Halley Corbett, Institute for Sport Business Lecturer at our educational partner, Loughborough University in London, explains the concept of mixed reality in sport and highlights the benefits of this increasingly accessible phenomenon.

New technology trends in the future of sport seem to be popping up every day. Such as sensors and cameras on athletes to monitor speed, strength, and distance, smart stadiums and applications to increase fan engagement and targeted branding, and incorporating virtual reality to enhance the sport experience. Virtual reality allows you to watch your favourite sport in your favourite pub but from the comfort of your own home. Through Microsoft’s HoloLens, an untethered, holographic computer that enables users to interact with high-definition holograms in their world, the future of watching and engaging with sport is vast. Sport fans using the HoloLens headset will have the ability to change the game into a more interactive and futuristic experience. According to Microsoft, HoloLens “embraces virtual reality and augmented reality to create a new reality – mixed reality”. This mixed reality gives sport fans the ability to control the interactive graphics with the swipe of a finger or wave of the hand.

Many professional leagues have demonstrated an interest in how mixed reality can be incorporated into the game. For instance, a concept video of how sport fans will watch future NFL Super Bowl games demonstrated replays coming to life in fans living rooms and their favourite players busting through those same living room walls and climbing over couches. The PGA Tour is also interested in augmented reality and finding out ways in which they can better engage fans, design courses, improve operations, and offer benefit to golfers. The PGA demoed the HoloLens headset at The Players Championship tournament allowing players, coaches, and sponsors to interact with 3D models of various holes overlaid with a variety of statistics, such as player shot data and performance. Major League Soccer is also working with a marketing agency, Pop, to develop a HoloLens application to help train coaches and review game video.

The potential for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality in regard to sport seems endless. The technology allows multiple users to view the technology at the same time, assist with player-coach conversations, further explain broadcaster’s commentary to fans, and make watching sport more entertaining than ever before. There are certain aspects that are unclear about HoloLens (and similar headsets), such as how exactly the holographic vision is optimised for the wearers so that it does not lead to fatigue and dizziness in long term use, how much the final headset will cost the user, how the headset will actually benefit players, coaches, and staff, and the notion that fans will have to essentially wear a facemask to watch sport. Another important aspect to consider is the generation of content and services that would leverage the immersive visualisation capabilities of those headsets. Ultimately, that will impact the take up speed of such gadgets which will eventually affect its price. Despite all the unknowns, the future of mixed reality in sport is gaining momentum and is the future reality of sport.

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