Imagine a side of sports where people in stadiums or anywhere else in the world can watch the game, not from a distance, but from the very perspective of the players themselves! As fictitious and unbelievable as it may sound, we are getting closer to that day!
Virtual Reality has already made its way into several sectors including entertainment and education. Now, it is time for the sports industry to embrace this gift of science and technology.
Moreover, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a humongous impact on the sports industry. Since public gatherings seem like a crime now, stadiums and sports clubs took a large hit on revenue generation.
Basketball and Football clubs around the world have already started investing millions of dollars into VR technology because of its potential applications. Not only does Virtual Reality offer a means to take the game to the audience, but it also provides ways to improve player performance in the game.
Viewing Games in Virtual Reality
The first large scale application of virtual reality in sports that we can expect is the ability to view sports and other events in VR.
Earlier, sports were restricted to be viewed only from the stadium. It gradually made its way into the electronics screens of our homes. Now people can not only view our favourite sporting events on our screens, but they can also choose from the hose of camera angles and perspectives for a more interactive feeling.
Could it get any better? Sports has surely become interactive, but what if we go one step ahead and make it immersive as well? The idea might sound preposterous, but it is soon becoming a reality with VR.
Audiences can get a bird’s eye view of the entire game! Televisions channels and streaming services can use 360 cameras to stream VR-compatible footage to the devices of the audiences.
This becomes a win-win situation for all since people get a livelier experience of the sport that they are watching and businesses like sports clubs, stadiums and TV channels can capitalise on this by providing their services.
A VR headset is all that a person requires to capture the broadcast. If this were to start exclusively in stadiums, then it is highly likely that ticket sales would shoot up through the roof!
However, in most parts, VR broadcasting is still in its rudimentary stages, and people are yet to experiment with it thoroughly.
As a matter of fact, some events of the Rio Olympics 2016 featured Virtual Reality broadcasting. However, the broadcast was available only after the completion of the event. Companies around the globe are working to make large-scale live VR sports broadcasting a reality soon.
Using Virtual Reality to Enhance Player Performance
Virtual Reality has an immense scope of enhancing the performance of players on the field with the help of VR training. Let us break down how.
Firstly, there are many methods to do so. But a common one is through simulations.
Take the fierce sport of kickboxing, for example. The developers can simulate a scenario mimicking a player’s real-world opponent and load it into the VR gear. When the fighters put on the VR goggles, they are immersed in a virtually constructed world where they can take on their opponent. Any errors that they make would be recorded and analysed by the sponsors and the team for rectification. Thus, when the real game begins, you probably already have a winner in your hand!
Virtual Reality simulations need not necessarily be for one-on-one sports like kickboxing. The National Basketball Association (NBA) of the United States of America (USA), is also investing in VR technology to improve the performance of the entire team.
Through simulations, they can improve coordination among the players of the team. When a player plays the ‘game’ or takes part in the simulation, all the inputs and outputs are meticulously recorded by the coaches to give suggestions to the players on how to improve their overall gameplay and performance.
Providing Better Judgement in Sports
When it comes to a popular sport, there always seems to be a lot of speculation, debate and disagreements from either team on the decisions of the referees, judges and umpires.
The game of cricket is a classic example. Numerous false allegations and theories pop up every time a reputed player gets bowled out. Despite several efforts, there always seems to be room for doubt and disagreement. Virtual Reality will greatly help in shrinking that room if not completely eliminating it.
Since Virtual Reality provides not only a view of 360 degrees but also an immersive experience, the decision-makers can recreate the entire scene of dispute and go one more step ahead and slow down the footage to prove the right decisions with absolutely no ambiguity!
Giving Birth to a New Segment of Sports
Virtual Reality is going above and beyond refining the sports of the present-day. It is also acting as a foundation and building block of an entirely new segment of sports – Virtual Reality (VR) sports!
VR sports are the perfect intersection or overlap of fantasy video games and real-world sports. Imagine being able to play in a football tournament alongside the world’s best footballers without having any professional experience in football! It might sound bananas, but Virtual Reality has got you covered!
In fact, the VR sports industry is so young, that it is extremely easy today, more than it ever was and more than it will ever be, for gaming and technology companies to enter into the sports arena and vice versa. It can be seen as a bridge between two completely different worlds. A unifying entity for the industries.
The best part of this is that it is not just regular sports like cricket and football that can turn into VR, but also extreme adventure sports.
Examples of regular sports making their way into VR:
Examples of extreme adventure sports making their way into VR:
- Bungee Jumping
- Scuba Diving
This boom was significant ever since Facebook acquired the Virtual Reality technology company Oculus back in 2014.
Therefore, this could be the perfect opening for many people who are aspiring to be entrepreneurs!
VR Games Emerging as Sports
Virtual Reality is giving birth to a newer segment of sports in more than just one way. In this instance, it is redefining the very meaning of sports!
What were merely called video games yesterday could be soon called sports. Games like Pokémon Go provide both entertainment as well as physical exercise. Sounds familiar to any other sport, does it not? However, until now such games could only be played on mobile screens. The fact that they are not as immersive as traditional sports, kept them in a space of their own.
However, with VR, these games can get as immersive are any other sport. So, do not be surprised when they are referred to as a sport instead of a mere video game.
That was just a primer to the vast ocean of possibilities that Virtual Reality holds. Brands all over the world are indulging in VR as advertising in virtual spaces is far easier and cost-effective than in traditional tournaments.