VRFocus is back once again to bring you another edition of This Week in VR Sport. With a number of sports related virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) stories, this week has three stories that are sure to peak your interest. Baseball fans get not one but two experiences this week and a discussion around the future of AR and VR live sports coverage was held at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Virtex Arena Baseball Released, Bringing AR Baseball Mini-Game To Fans
Virtex Apps have released released their mobile AR app Virtex Arena Baseball this week bringing the field of live baseball games to life with mini-games. Tailored for fans who are in the seats of a stadium and designed to be played between innings and other breaks, players will find plenty to do within the Virtex Arena Baseball app.
The app puts players against other fans in the stadium or those at home, allowing them to compete for the highest score in AR mini-games. When the time is right users can open the app, pick a team to support and then which game to join. From there it is all about playing the experience as best you can to ensure you bring home those points.
Some of the upcoming games that the Virtex Arena Baseball app with be able to be used at including the A’s vs. Orioles at the Oakland Coliseum on 4th May. The Yankees vs. the Red Sox at the Yankee Stadium on the 8th May and the Cubs vs. the White Sox at Wrigley Field on the 11th May. More dates and supported games will be announced as the season progresses.
MLB Home Run Derby VR Released With New Trailer
In case you missed it, earlier this week the VR baseball title MLB Home Run Derby VR released for HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. The title lets players jump onto the field and take up a bat to try and score the most home runs and claim a place on the worldwide leaderboards.
The title includes three ballparks which have been carefully recreated in high-fidelity 3D so fans are able to feel like they are really on the field. This includes famous parks such as Marlins Park in Miami, Nationals Park in Washington DC and Progressive Field in Cleveland. Do you have what it takes to step up to the challenge and face off against the world? Can you be the home run champion?
MLB Home Run Derby VR is available now on PlayStation VR and HTC Vive and you can see the trailer for the title in the below Tweet.
— MLB Home Run Derby (@HRDerbyGame) April 26, 2018
Michael Ludden And Mitzi Reaugh Discuss The Future Of AR/VR Sports Coverage
At this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, sports fan and director of product for Watson Developer Labs & AR/VR Labs at IBM Michael Ludden talked about the obstacles facing VR and AR in sports. In a panel which also featured Mitzi Reaugh, VP of development and strategy at VR company Jaunt, the two discussed how immersive technology is playing a big role in sports media.
“You guys do some of this, so I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus,” Ludden said, referring to Jaunt’s technology. “But I would say that it’s not quite there yet in terms of usability.” Ludden explained that the capabilities of VR for sports events is extremely limited. Users cannot watch live games, camera positions are limited, there are no options to zoom the camera, and production quality is not to the same standard as traditional broadcasters. “I’m a sports fan and I’ve tried a number of these things, both using Jaunt and other platforms, and frankly for the most part, it’s pre-digested 30-second clips,” said Ludden.
According to Ludden the biggest obstacle is “incentivization mismatch,” since sports arenas and stadiums actually want people in the paying for tickets and to sit at the event, spending additional money on snacks, merchandise, etc. AR was noted for offering another immersive way to enjoy sporting events and that it is well on its way to be a more suitable media. During the panel they note how there is an opportunity to provide headsets that overlay statistics or commentary to those sat in the seats. It would allow events a chance to leverage the technology to provide on-site fans with much more information as those sat watching a home.
AR projections were also mentioned as being an effective way to engage viewers in live sports event, projecting the event onto a tabletop for example which would offer a complete view of the events. Ludden estimated that AR headsets in stadiums could be available as early this coming football season with consumer AR projections still sometime off. As for VR, Ludden is still hesitant about the execution, but expressed some optimism saying: “I think we’ll get there eventually because there’s a demand and there’s a use case.”