The 2nd annual Immersive
Technology in Sports & Entertainment Summit is to be held in the Bay Area
in November. And the sequel to last years successful
summit could not have come at a better time as 2018 has been a breakthrough
year for immersive technology in sports. Virtual reality (VR), in particular,
is trudging ever so close to relevancy across a variety of sports.
VR is viewed as a potential game changer in
terms of giving fans an immersive experience, while watching sporting events.
This potential was discussed at length by Jaunt VP of development and strategy
Mitzi Reaugh and AR/VR Labs director of product Michael Ludden in a panel
moderated by Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget.
Both agree that using VR to enhance fan experience is at best, a work in
progress, but its potential to enhance the viewing experience at home and at
sporting venues is immense.
Sports fans are not the only beneficiaries of
VR, with athletes also benefiting from this technology to help them improve
their sport. Coral notes that
VR is now increasingly used by athletes as a training tool,
with F1 drivers, in particular, now getting an “extra edge” via virtual
cockpits that simulate actual racing conditions. Retired F1
champion Nico Rosberg understands the benefits of VR training first-hand
as he, himself, benefited from it. “We had a simulator that was virtual reality
and we used a lot of that to prepare for the actual driving,” Rosberg explained
before pointing out that drivers are “not allowed to test.” This means VR
training is the closest they will ever get to an actual test drive.
Players in the NFL are also getting help from
VR, with most teams in the league using VR
technology patented by industry leader STRIVR.
Quarterbacks are benefiting from VR training as they get to review thousands of
plays — or “mental reps” — in great detail. Case Keenum is a great example; the
former backup had quite a season last year, stepping in for the injured Sam
Bradford and leading the Minnesota Vikings to the conference championship.
Keenum credits some of his success to his work with STRIVR, which he believes
is an excellent “supplemental preparation tool,” even for starters. The key
word here, though, is supplemental as
no technology can ever take the place of work ethic and dedication to the craft.
Even NBA players are turning to VR
Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz using VR to
help his injury. The former top pick routinely wears VR goggles that help him
visualize making plays on the court. But the Sixers brass are banking on
something more. They are hoping that VR can fix the broken Fultz, whose injured
shoulder has adversely affected his shooting form. In his case, the high-tech
goggles will help the explosive combo guard visualize his shooting mechanics
and remind him of how easily he shot the ball prior to his injury.
In a world where even the slightest edge is the
difference between winning and losing, it is no surprise that athletes and
professional teams are finding ways to use VR technology to their advantage.
This trend figures to continue, more so with the number of athletes benefiting
from VR training seemingly rising.