This Week in VR Sport: The Next Generation

The weekend is here and it’s the last one for the month of February but that won’t stop us from bringing you a number of stories from the week focusing on sports. From football to stock car racing to a new demonstration of a virtual reality (VR) stadium experience, there is plenty to drive into in This Week In VR Sport.

Virtual Stadium Experience Showcased at MediaCityUK

Since the introduction of VR technology into the world of sports, fans have been itching to see how it can help put them closer to the action. Salford University Centre for Sports Business partnered with DigitalSport.co to demonstration and number of VR and augmented reality (AR) products focusing on the sports sector. One such demonstration, designed by Salford student Elena-Mary Calarasu, made use of 360 camera to record not only a match but also the crowds, before projecting them onto huge screens to create an immersive virtual stadium experience.

Salford University Virtual Stadium Demonstration

Calarasu, a student of Business and IT at the University of Salford Business School explained: “We wanted to get rid of the headsets but still get the same experience. It’s a very social thing. The idea is to bring fans closer to the action. It will allow fans who don’t live near their team to be involved in the action. For example Man City fans who live in China could get a much better experience if this technology is used.”

On top of the massive projection onto the two massive screens the experience can also been enjoyed with a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift. The demonstration shows that with or without a headset, that immersive sports content is very much possible and can be used in a number of different applications.

NASCAR Looking to Virtual Reality to Fuel Future Stars

From football to stock car racing, VR and immersive technology is helping to grow the next generation of racers.

Speaking in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, 20 year old stock car racer William Byron spoke about how the use of the popular iRacing simulator as a teenager helped to home his skills for the real thing. Having won over 100 races and placing in the top five over 290 times. Talking about his early days of racing Byron explained: “For me, I had not been in a racing family and did not have any connection with this, so iRacing was my chance to really see if I had any ability to drive a car, I think from that standpoint it’s a great starter for understanding if you do have some ability and seeing if that can translate.”

iRacing screenshot 01

The accessibility of iRacing and the included support for VR headsets allows a user to become complete immersed in a race, learning invariable skills for the real thing. Jimmie Johnson, 42-year-old seven-time season champion added: “In today’s world you can get experience in a variety lot of different ways and have the hours needed to jump in a car, unlike my generation, William is a perfect example.”

He continued by adding: “I had to wait 20 times a year to go drive a vehicle for one day. You add up those hours. William can sit in his house and drive for six hours day after day after day. It’s not the real thing but in today’s era it’s pretty damn close.”

The Next eSport Might Be VR Deathmatch

Speaking of future stars, the next generations of eSports champions may find their future success in VR.

During a recent test event at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas, the first two-person VR arena demonstration was create. The aim was to have two players facing off in a head-to-head live-action deathmatch in the title Raw Data. Complete with viewing screens and side-by-side pods, a stage was created to make any eSports fan happy. The event, though only small, was a successful test of the idea, setup and hardware along with a live stream resulting in an exciting event that has a lot of promise.

VR Deathmatch Arena

The possible application to take this large scale could be a key step in how the eSports industry further embraces VR technology and creates new competitions. You can see the test event in action here.

For more on immersive sport news keep reading VRFocus.