Over in America, basketball fans have had a lot of things to enjoy over the last few days. With the playoffs looming it was All Star Weekend, meaning that there was a lot of showpiece events going on that pick up a lot of national and international media. There was the annual slam dunk competition, this year won by Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell. There was also on Monday the All Stars game itself. An annual tradition, the 67th edition of the exhibition basketball game took on a new dimension as it involved a draft.
Outside of the game the business that is the National Basketball Association (NBA) had other things on its mind and one of those things was how technology is going to shape it’s future. On last weekend’s edition of This Week In VR Sport, we catalogued two of those ventures both of which relate to immersive technology.
The All-Star game itself had some virtual reality (VR) support thanks to Intel and the recently launched Turner Networks app NBA on TNT, which will be getting more games (at least one a week) for the foreseeable future. There was also the matter of Magic Leap, which it was announced was also working with the NBA.
“We make this possible with spatial computing, seamlessly blending the digital and physical worlds to deliver new forms of engagement for consumers.” Said the company upon revealing the deal with the NBA and Turner.
But the NBA too had something to say over the weekend about how immersive technology will play a role in their future, and also why they have decided to go that route in the first place. Those comments came from NBA commissioner Adam Silver who spoke to people at a press conference before the main event. However, it wasn’t VR that he sees as the ultimate goal…
“It’s a concept called mixed reality; it’s not virtual reality, it’s not augmented reality, but in essence it’s a new way of looking at our players and the game, that, in essence, can bring it to our fans throughout the world.” Silver explained, partly in response to the Magic Leap news. “We recognize that we can’t scale our arenas; that our arenas are practically full everywhere, and certainly the courtside seats. The challenge for this league is how can we then bring that experience to our well over a billion fans around the world who will never get a chance to see a game in person. So, technology and creating a more immersive experience for fans is something that we spend a lot of time on at the league office. And in social media as well. We now have a social-media community globally estimated at roughly 1.4 Billion, which is quite remarkable. And those are people who are engaging in some way with our players, or our teams, or the league office, or with their local broadcaster on events around the game.”
VRFocus will continue to follow as the NBA explores VR, AR and MR and will bring you news of new developments as we can.