Traditionally, the sports industry is fairly rapid in adopting emerging technologies. Whether it’s improving data collection, tightening referee procedures or expanding the club brand, the industry is always looking for new ways emerging tech can be utilised to improve the sporting experience.
We are already seeing the capabilities of reality technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) within sports thanks to innovation within the US. At CES 2017, Intel replayed a match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Instead of television footage, the company demonstrated the opportunities of VR in streaming sporting events using a 360 degree, immersive experience.
Whilst a VR could not match the experience of attending a real game, the technology could bring matches to people unwilling or unable to attend. Premier football teams, for example, have a global following and, for some fans, the prospect of attending a game at a stadium is miles out of reach. VR technology could bring the game to them. Clubs could sell virtual tickets, allowing for fans to experience the game from any seat in the stadium. Unlike televised matches, fans would experience the match like they were actually there.
There are some start ups beginning to demonstrate how the UK sport industry can adopt this technology. NextVR work with Live Nation, FOX Sports, CNN and more to deliver live sporting events to fans using a VR experience.
VR allows users to experience events that were previously out of reach. Although sports games are frequent, each match has unique rivalries and moments fans do not want to miss. Whilst critics will argue that the technology will remove the social element of attending a sporting event, it is important to note that the tech is not aiming to replace the stadium experience, it is merely trying to bring it to those who cannot attend.
If stadiums are equipped with cameras covering every angle to offer fans a 360-degree experience, referees could also utilise this footage to review controversial decisions.
Of course, reality technology offers opportunities within training. VR firm EON Sports specialises in creating virtual training programmes and environments for athletes currently being used by teams in NFL.
Players can practise against their actual components, using software programmed with data regarding a rival team’s performance. Not only this but VR could offer training programmes tailored to suit an athlete’s specific needs. The technology can record and store data about a specifics athlete’s performance and locate areas that need improvement. VR offers better, more accurate data collection and because of the virtual environment, the athletes are at much lower risk of injuries.
But it’s not only VR. Augmented reality could increase fan engagement and boost sponsorship and advertisement opportunities. Zappar have begun to demonstrate how AR can enhance customer loyalty and the fan experience. For instance, in 2016, Zappar partnered with Manchester City Football Club to allow fans to pose with their favourite players. Utalising emerging tech, tailored content can be digitised and bring materials like match day programmes to life. Similar to Burberry’s engagement with AR.
In the UK, we are yet to see the full potential of reality technologies within sports – but, they are certainly coming. The US have been quick to adopt the tech, working with start ups like NextVR to improve the customer experience, as well as the training techniques of the players. Reality technologies are forecast to disrupt many markets in unique ways, and the sporting industry are lucky enough to be able to see how AR and VR can be embedded within their teams and clubs.
Whilst sports fans are viciously loyal, harbouring the potential of emerging technologies will drive customer engagement and ensure teams are using the most beneficial fitness and marketing techniques.
Get in touch with B60 today to find out how your company can utilise the exciting opportunities offered by AR and VR.