With VRFocus the weekend guarantees two things, and the first of those is Saturday’s weekly roundup of stories combining the fields of virtual reality (VR) and sport. There’s a trio of very different stories this week, so let’s get on with things and take you through them. Starting with a story we’ve not yet covered this week in the realm of baseball.
Fans Get To Live The Dream Thanks To The Arizona Diamondbacks
On our weekend features we’ve often followed VR’s fortunes in American Football and Basketball, both for professionals and at the college level. One American institution we rarely get the chance to talk about is ‘The National Passtime’ itself: the sport of baseball.
National League West franchise the Arizona Diamondbacks have joined the Boston Red Socks and turned to VR in order to let them discover just what it feels like to pull on a Diamondbacks shirt with a behind-the-scenes look at what it means to be a player on the team. As part of a new ‘VR Bullpen’ at the Chase Field stadium fans will be able to try out an discover an array where they can strap on an HTC Vive and experience among other things stepping into an actual bullpen (where the area where relief pitchers warm up), stepping out onto the turn to field fly balls, running the bases and even the anticipation of waiting for their chance to play in the dugout. Screens will also be up showing around the area just what the fans inside VR are up to. Take up is already strong with an average of 350 fans trying the experience per game.
Speaking to Cronkite News, the Diamondbacks Vice President relating to fan experiences Graham Rossini had this to say: “Our goal with Cox Connects VR Bullpen is to really bring fans as close to the action as possible. So with the headset, we basically put them in the middle of major league workouts [to experience] what it’s like to be in the batter’s box facing great pitching, what it’s like to be fielding ground balls, fly balls, etc. Only a few people get a chance to say they were a Major League Baseball player so when you do get to stand in the batter’s box and get to understand how good Taijuan Walker [the Diamondbacks’ pitcher] is, how fast those pitches are coming in, the movement of a breaking ball, it’s a really cool perspective.”
PGA Tour Makes Move To Be Broadcast In 360 Degrees
Golfing fans keen on VR also have cause tocelebrate after it was confirmed by the PGA Tour that the 17th hole of The Players Championship will be broadcast live in 360-degree video thanks to a collaboration between the PGA and technology giant Intel.
The championship, which will be played from May 11th to May 14th 2017 will be viewable either via the PGA Tour VR Live app, to be made available on the Oculus Store for the Samsung Gear VR or as a stream viewable on the PGA Tour twitter account.account.
It marks the first move into VR for the PGA which will see three 360 degree cameras from Intel broadcast footage from the tee, walkwat up to the tee, and will be placed on the 17th tee, another on the walkway from the tee box to the green and a third to broadcast from one of the water hazards near the green.
“We are excited that THE PLAYERS Championship will host the PGA TOUR’s first live virtual reality production,” said Rick Anderson, PGA TOUR Chief Media Officer. “The PGA TOUR has experimented with virtual reality content for nearly two years. We tested Intel’s True VR technology on a live basis at the Genesis Open in February, and were very pleased with the quality. We decided that executing a live VR experience on one of the most dramatic holes in golf was something that our fans would love, and the fact that we are partnering with Twitter to deliver 360 video will offer tremendous scale.”
“The Intel True VR platform will provide golf fans with a new, immersive experience using our end-to-end solution. From our stereoscopic cameras at the iconic 17th hole to creating a PGA TOUR VR application for THE PLAYERS Championship, we work with our partners to create the best fan experience,” said David Aufhauser, managing director, Intel Sports Group. “Working with the PGA TOUR, as well as global distribution via Twitter and Periscope, gives us the ability to expand the Intel True VR experience to more fans.”
More Sports Videogames Head To VR
For those of you looking to get immersed in a VR videogame of your favourite sport there have been a couple of new items that you should be aware of. First up for basketball fans Baskhead Training, a game where you are challenged to be the best shooter in the business, is already out on the likes of Google Daydream, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. However it was announced earlier this week that developers VRLines will look to complete the set by adding PlayStation VR and Google Cardboard support at a later date.
Additionally for golf and puzzle fans comes the newly renamed Moonscale Galaxy, which is also coming to PlayStation VR. A puzzler which takes crazy golf up to a galactic scale. You can watch a trailer for that here.