Augmented reality has penetrated various sectors like education, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare. It was often overlooked in the sports domain by businesses as well as consumers, yet not anymore. The use of augmented reality in sports is bringing about significant changes in the way people consume and enjoy sporting events. It also provides valuable insights to professional players and coaches. This helps in improving their performances significantly. Businesses can capitalize on the vast market potential of the sports and entertainment industry worldwide. Augmented reality is now seeing wide application across various sports. It provides for jaw-dropping experiences for fans and new financial opportunities for businesses engaged in augmented reality solutions.
Use Cases of Augmented Reality in Sports
Implementation of augmented reality in sports provides for an entertaining experience for the fans. It also offers significant analytics for coaches and players to enhance their playing skills. Here’s a look at five ways in which augmented reality in sports is proving highly beneficial.
On-field Decision Making
Augmented reality is being implemented in various sporting events across the globe. It has significantly improved the sporting experience in the arena for the players as well as audiences. Augmented reality has hugely minimized human errors, which can dramatically change the outcome of the event and provide fair play opportunities. Even a single human error by an official can cause huge implications for the players or teams involved. Augmented reality provides the ability to review decisions that the players feel officials may have misjudged. Augmented reality solutions are being implemented in sporting events like Major League Baseball and soccer leagues all over the world.
One of the widespread applications of augmented reality in sports is the Hawk-eye system. Hawk-eye is a computer-based augmented reality solution that is used in numerous sports such as tennis, badminton, soccer, and volleyball. The technology visually tracks the trajectory of the ball or other objects to predict the most likely path of the object. Hawk-eye technology has become the go-to solution for event organizers due to its near-perfect accuracy.
Another area in which augmented reality can be used at stadiums is to provide interactive experiences for the fans. Panasonic has already capitalized on this concept and has unveiled its augmented reality solution during CES 2018.
Coaches and support staff too can leverage augmented reality to guide players and come up with strategies in real-time. This provides for a more realistic approach than the traditional pen-and-paper method. Augmented reality has completely transformed the in-stadium experience for players and audiences alike. Businesses can leverage the capabilities of augmented reality technology to provide better solutions to enhance the arena experience.
Training forms a vital part of any professional player's career. Athletes are always looking to improve their game to get better results. Technologies prove to be a bonus when it comes to training. Augmented reality can significantly help professionals during training sessions. Augmented reality can overlay data over the real-world environment or incorporate data in pre-recorded videos. This serves players so that they gain a better understanding of their playing style to help improve their game. Athletes can correct their actions and adopt better techniques by utilizing augmented reality in training sessions. The technology can also be used to study strategies adopted by opponents and plan counteractive strategies. With a large adoption of augmented reality in sports, the overall quality of the game increases, proving to be an engaging and entertaining competition for the fans.
Augmented reality also minimizes the chances of injury to players. Training practices adopted by players can be analyzed using augmented reality solutions. Practices that can prove risky to the fitness of the players can be discarded. Injuries can be a huge risk to the career of a player, sometimes even ending it. Augmented reality can help minimize, if not eliminate, the chance of injuries, prolonging a professional’s career.
Major sporting events are broadcasted and watched all over the world. The sports broadcasting market is expected to earn USD 78.5 billion in revenues by 2021 in the North American region alone. A majority of people watch major sports broadcasts all across the globe. Augmented reality can provide an engaging broadcast for the home viewers and generate more traffic for the broadcasting station. Most of the sporting events broadcasted already have augmented reality technology embedded in the form of 3D graphics and other interactive content. Sports broadcasters can leverage technologies the most for providing an in-depth analysis of the game. Experts can suggest alternative plays using their experience and knowledge by overlaying augmented reality data on video replays. This gives the audiences at home a better understanding of the game. A lot of major sports broadcasters like ESPN and Fox sports have already implemented augmented reality in sports broadcast programs.
Any sporting event needs excellent marketing tools for it to become successful. Sports and advertising go hand in hand. Most of the sporting events have sponsorship in some form or another. Players, teams, and organizers' major revenues come from sponsorship and product marketing. Companies get a great opportunity to market their products during sporting events. As these events are viewed by people all over the world, this provides an excellent medium to showcase products to a global audience. Technologies like augmented reality can enable engaging and interactive advertising. The implementation of augmented reality in sports advertising can make every stand, brochure, or poster or even the field or stadium more entertaining. Moreover, augmented reality solutions can help companies access information about customers. Such information is very helpful in making advertising decisions to make the ad campaigns more personalized. Thus, the use of augmented reality in sports simulates fans' engagement and can increase sales for businesses.
Augmented reality can be used in conjunction with sports broadcasting as a marketing tool. The digital advertising boards displayed during broadcasts can be completely different from the one displayed on the field. It provides great advertising opportunities for multiple companies while reducing costs. Local companies can have their ads displayed on digital banners, which can be viewed differently depending upon the viewer’s location.
The Virtual Hybrid LED digiBOARD is an excellent example of targeted advertisements using augmented reality. The advertising seen on the LED perimeter boards in the broadcast coverage is completely different in the targeted territories from the ads displayed to the fans in the stadium and across domestic coverage and the world feed.
Playing Fantasy Sports
Fantasy sports are gaining mass popularity. Businesses can incorporate augmented reality solutions in their fantasy sports app to provide an engaging experience to the users. ‘AR Sports’ has already patented an augmented reality solution that can be incorporated into existing fantasy sports apps. It uses geolocation technology that enables users to locate players within their existing radius to draft in their fantasy team. The available players will move into a user's radius via a randomized proprietary algorithm. They will be able to set alerts on their favorite players to get notified when their favorite players appear in their radius. It also provides advertising tools for businesses as users can swipe and capture either logos or promotions from their favorite brands and products. Other businesses can capitalize on the idea and can come up with their creative solutions to provide a rich user experience.
Augmented reality in sports has significantly improved performance and entertainment. Players, audiences, as well as businesses involved in the sports industry, can benefit hugely from augmented reality. With further advancement in technology, the applications of augmented reality in sports are limitless.
Naveen Joshi is Founder and CEO of Allerin, which develops engineering and technology solutions focused on optimal customer experiences. Naveen works in AI, Big Data, IoT and Blockchain. An influencer with a half a million followers, he is a highly seasoned professional with more than 20 years of comprehensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment.