Sports and Augmented Reality: a Perfect Storm

As I watch the NHL 2017 Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators (with much chagrin as I am a Philadelphia Flyers fan), I can’t but wonder how my experience may improve in the future of Sports and Augmented Reality.

First, let’s go old school and consider the trading card. A sports trading card is a small card, usually paperboard or thick paper, which contains a player’s image and name along with a short description and vital statistics. But in the new world of sports and augmented reality, I can envision:

  • An image of the player popping out of the sports trading card. The image would play videos of the player’s career, memorable game highlights and provide a personal message from the player to its fan.
  • Advertisers and loyalty programs taking advantage of the opportunity to connect directly with their fan base by offering ticket discounts to their favorite game rivalry, parking, food or drink coupons for the game and/or highlighting new sports merchandise.

How about my game tickets? I can now bring those to life as well through Augmented Reality. Enhanced AR game tickets will not only be able to access highlights and other game hype, but could offer practical uses, as well. Things like:

  • Live traffic updates from areas surrounding the stadium.
  • Parking information and transportation tools such as public transportation schedules or links to Uber and Lyft—making getting to and from the game as painless as possible.
  • 3D stadium view with concession stand offerings and deals.
  • The bathroom nearest to your seat.

Now it’s game time and I have my Blade 3000 Smart Sunglasses or Microsoft HoloLens in hand and the AR fun really begins:

  • Player Stat Overlay: view a player’s stats and info as a data overlay while watching a game.
  • Enhanced Analytics: view any data in real-time as you watch the game, things like the speed of a puck, the force of a hit, or the angle of a shot.
  • Play Visualization: get a view of the ice from a coach’s or goalie’s perspective.

I am pleased to see some sports companies (i.e. Fox Sports, the Detroit Red Wings and the Philadelphia Eagles) bringing augmented reality to NFL games. So far, the initial reaction from fans has been positive but it may come at a price:

  • Paying Attention: balancing the line between attention-grabbing and distracting will be a challenge. This may only become worse when advertisers realize the benefits of the AR graphics treatment and want to get involved.
  • Cost: how much of the AR costs will be passed onto the fans (higher ticket and concession prices, etc.).
  • Adoption hurdles: What if I don’t have Blade 3000 Smart Sunglasses, a Microsoft HoloLens or a smartphone with AR functionality? Fans will start expecting enhanced AR data and real-time integrated 3D graphics and may become frustrated when the technology isn’t available.

Additionally, let’s not forget about all the ways augmented reality may be used to make athlete’s better hockey players. Recent technology developments in 3D Virtual and Augmented Reality have stimulated innovation and creativity within sports training. StriVR Labs is taking sports training to the next level. So how does it work? During practice, cameras capture the action from every angle as the players run through their scrimmage. The video is then uploaded to StriVR’s proprietary software, which lets coaches and players strap on an Oculus headset and get a 360-degree view of each play.

The STRIVR platform utilizes immersive VR to help athletes learn faster and more effectively, improving reaction time, pattern recognition, and decision making while increasing awareness and enhancing peripheral vision in the actual game. And according to StriVR Labs, “in just 2 seasons, StriVR teams have won 9 Division, Conference and NCAA titles.”

Sports professionals are always hungry for new, dramatic technology to incorporate into their routine and improve their athleticism. Sports franchises and companies seek novel ways to increase revenue by keeping fans engaged. At the same time, augmented reality is hungry for new use cases, implementations and applications to showcase its possibilities. This may be a perfect storm.

At Propelics, we help enterprises utilize augmented reality to streamline business processes, enhance efficiency and drive productivity. Give us a call and let’s discuss potential AR use cases at your company. We’d love to get involved.

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Phono Image610 239 8100