December is here! But just because the weather is on the turn, the cold is drawing in and there’s the threat (and reality for several of the VRFocus staff) of snow that doesn’t mean that the world of sport and the world of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies don’t continue to collide in brand new ways. The big story of the week might well have been related to fighting demons on another planet, but back on Earth (and in reality) there’s plenty going on. So, since it is Saturday after all, let’s check in with This Week In VR Sport.
Groove Jones & Under Armour Team-Up For Some American Football
Having an American Football related VR experience is nothing particularly new. We’ve seen throughout 2017 use of the technology grow as well as use of AR to create new ‘fan engagement’ experiences. Allowing supporters to show their colours on social media and through other outlets. However, this new one developed by interactive digital content creators Groove Jones is a step above the usual fare and is, in fact, a proper videogame experience.
As part of a tie-in with the two All-American bowls being presented by American Family Insurance – The Under Armour All-America Game and the U.S. Army All American Bowl – the studio has created a new Quarterback Challenge for fans to see if they have the arm and the skills to lead a team to success.
Two versions of the videogame exist, branded up under either Under Armour or the U.S. Army depending upon the relevant event. The title sees fans step out into the centre of a stadium to engage in a number of skill tests related to passing and targeting. Players attempt to throw as many footballs as they can through a number of targets that appear around the playing field, with the top ranked players at the end of the evening getting ‘bragging rights’
Throughout the season the title will be touring various events at High School Football games as well as being on the road throughout the United States. No mention has been made by Groove Jones as to the VR head mounted display (HMD) being used but gameplay would suggest either an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift and Touch. You can see a trailer for the (somewhat of a mouthful) Under Armour All America Football Quarterback Challenge below.
Rickie Fowler Working On VR Coaching App
With four PGA Tour victories under his belt and $30,000,000 (USD) in tour winnings in the bank you’d forgive American golfer Rickie Fowler for maybe just concentrating on the aspects of his own game and keep the success rolling. However, the Florida based star has no intentions of doing so. In fact, he’s rather keen on helping you do better instead.
Earlier this week it was reported that Fowler is working to develop a VR golf coaching platform with Success Co., a Los Angeles based firm best known for their Success Series VR Player – on which various lessons in 360 degree video can already be found. The growing library of lessons, geared towards players of all ages, will range in price between $4.99 and $6.99.
Fowler explained what was going on to Fox Sports earlier in the week: “It’s pretty cool, with the virtual reality, I could be standing in a bunker and it feels like you’re standing right next to me.”
For CEO of Success Co. Anthony Puntoriero, teaming up with Fowler was a no-brainer for the company. “Rickie was the only golfer we wanted to target for Success Series and that is because of who he is on and off the course. Rickie’s brand and character has defined the new era of golfer and he is the ideal ambassador to take golf into the homes of sports fans globally. His message is infectious and he has genuine passion for helping people get better at the game.”
Telemundo Prepares For Russia
One of the big sporting highlights of 2018 will no doubt be the 2018 World Cup in Russia and in anticipation of the event U.S. broadcaster Telemundo has been making a number of announcements on how it will be supporting the event. With all 64 matches in the tournament to be broadcast live across Telemundo and Unvierso, Telemundo will also be dedicating a prime-time show to the World Cup – a first for an American broadcaster of the competition.
It isn’t just traditional television and cable that Telemundo is looking to target, however. They have revealed that they will be producing a full-service VR app for the competition which will be taking place throughout June and July next year. Fans will be able to to enjoy select content from what Telemundo are calling ‘a virtual VIP suite’. with content in both 180 and 360 degrees and multi-angle standard video content as well.
“We have been looking forward to Russia 2018 since 2011 when Telemundo, with the support of NBCUniversal, became the new Spanish-language home of the FIFA World Cup,” Explained Telemundo Deportes president Ray Warren in a statement. “As we approach the World Cup Draw this Friday and the World Cup Finals next June, we at Telemundo and NBCUniversal renew our commitment to deliver the highest quality, most consumed, and most talked about FIFA World Cup coverage in the event’s history.”
We’ll have more immersive sport news on VRFocus next week at the same time.