How Augmented Reality can help in the fan experience and engagement transformation in Sports

Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality are all concepts that always amaze an average day-to-day consumer of media in any form. From the transformation of the telephone to a classic phone and then to a smartphone, the technological revolution in the industry has been nothing but spellbinding. Now moving onto a phase wherein one can potentially project a screen’s light to thin air and interact with it or enter a virtual world wherein one can interact and even possibly commune there is beyond one’s imagination, although very much plausible in the foreseeable future.

Combining sports with these courses of events and applying these developments to the sporting world could very well result in mesmerising outcomes as the possibilities developing from it are endless. A couple of major sources of revenue for these sporting outfits are through broadcasting and live attendance and finding the right balance between both is always vital for the teams and the league/tournament.

A substantial amount of attraction of attending a live sporting event is the atmosphere that comes with it; the involvement of you as a fan and as a 12th player for your favourite team in their glories and misfires, ups and downs. On the other hand, the rationale behind one choosing to watch a match from their respective home could be the comfort that comes with it; the environment, the real-time statistics that are shown on-screen, the excitement of listening to the commentators, and so on.

As Rowe and Hutchins have talked about in their book Digital media sport: technology, power, and culture in the network society, the line between “reality” and “fantasy” in media sport cultures is blurring as the Internet, computers, consoles, and handheld platforms have made possible new forms of interaction and sports gaming, including the integration of the fictive and the material in sport management games.

If, say, a technique was developed for the set of fans attending the match in the stadium to track these real-time statistics or listen to the commentators simultaneously, the increment in the level of experience and engagement could be massive. A way for the fans to know who has covered the most ground, who tackled and who was tackled the most, who has the most passes, and whatnot.

Nike is one of the brands that have arguably come the closest to this by introducing their Web-Connected Basketball Jersey. This is an NFC chip-enabled jersey tag that will allow the fans to connect to the players giving them access to the real-time game highlights and stats of a player, the player swaggering to the game in the latest couture attire, and occasionally even power-up codes for the NBA video game that might give that player’s avatar a hot hand are all unlocked. This innovation opened a lot of avenues to venture into, including eSports.

A couple of other examples of this application are the collaboration between Mediapro and LaLiga, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (now known as WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca), and NEXT/NOW. Additionally, this could also extend to have applications in the field of online sports betting wherein a particular individual may be requiring statistics of a specific player and he/she has access to all of them through a chip or some other similar technology.

The applications that augmented reality holds for the future, along with virtual reality and/or mixed reality, are simply exciting and only time can tell to what extent these technologies can and will grow and at what pace!

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