The sports industry is unarguably one of the biggest and most profitable industries today. As with fields like defence, education, and medicine, the advent of Augmented Reality into sports will be a game changer. However, unlike most fields, AR Sports is especially exciting as it presents opportunities that must be examined from two perspectives: firstly, what it could mean for the players themselves and secondly how introducing Augmented Reality in the field would affect the spectator's experience?As far as player experience is concerned, the possibilities are endless. It ranges from the convenience of being able to access team set-plays as they are displayed in front of your face during a match to having an opportunity no one saw coming: the ability to practice with credible computer-generated opponents before actual matches. Virtual Reality firm EON Sports has created a technology that creates virtual training environments for teams in addition to custom building training environments to cater to the needs of individual athletes. This technology is currently used by teams belonging to the National Football League, The Atlantic Coast Conference and The Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
In addition to virtual training environments, augmented reality applications in sports will also greatly reduce the risk of injury during practice ensuring no player misses important matches while simultaneously enhancing athlete training by providing virtual and individual coaching. A major advantage of this would be the ease of accessibility of these 'virtual coaches' who will be available around-the-clock anywhere in the world implying faster personal growth and skill-development for players. Augmented Reality technology such as HomeCourt , which is used in NBA, has already gained widespread popularity owing to its commendable accuracy and ability to track the smallest details including every jump, swing and sprint. It also provides feedback by instantly identifying incorrect techniques and by greatly reducing error-rates.
Players will be provided with real-time information that will strengthen their game by aiding them with advanced decision making capabilities. For example, Viewlicity GmbH's Software PuttView was created for golfers. It enables them to better analyze the golf course and adjust their timing and putting speed while also displaying ideal putting lines. It also proves valuable in the long run as it assesses and reports mistakes and visualizes player progress. In fact, these apps aren't just restricted to professional sportsmen. Earlier this year The PGA tour launched PGA Tour AR to generate enthusiasm for the upcoming tournament. This app allows fans to access the games in different ways - from allowing them to visualize the trajectory of the shots to displaying the most specific of details such as the undulations on the pitch.
In near future, we can expect to see technology for team sports such as rugby or football that assists players with real-time on-field information such as which offensive players are open or where the ball is going to land. This will vastly improve the quality of the game and if used smartly, the outcome too.
While AR would open up unique opportunities to players and the management it would also change the experience of another key stakeholder: the fans. Augmented Reality technology seeks to engage fans more. There have already been advancements towards enhancing the fan experience with Baltimore Ravens using AR to generate fan images with face paintings created by the computer. In 2017, Major League Baseball released the app 'At Bat' which allowed fans to obtain player profiles and follow the speed and trajectory of the hits among other things by pointing their mobile devices in the stadium. Beyond this Augmented Reality Apps could transform the entire stadium experience for fans with technology such as Xperiel, which has worked with teams such as the New York Jets and LA Dodgers, by aiming to 'turn the stadium into a giant video game console by integrating existing arena technology including the ticket scanners and the turnstiles.'
Augmented Reality technology has made possible the creation of multiple year-long fantasy leagues launched by the likes of fantasy sports system: AR Sports , most recently for the upcoming 2018 NFL Football season, which allows participants to create and complete team rosters using augmented reality. Augmented Reality will also allow fans to get their photos clicked with their favorite team members and get a front-row box ticket experience from home. The real deal-breaker will be the one thing every fan has always dreamed off: the ability to be their favorite player. With AR, you will be able to experience Ronaldo as he runs down the field or Lebron as he slam dunks- all from the comfort of your sofa.
WOWSOME has also forayed into the field with the Excitometer, a customer engagement tool to measure a person's excitement level through their actions. This was used during the 2018 edition of the Indian Premiere League to gauge enthusiasm levels before a match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab.