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Research on Virtual Reality Technology in Sports Field

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As an emerging product of highly developed modern computer technology, virtual reality technology has drawn great attention from the society since its date of birth. Virtual reality technology is becoming perfecter and perfecter with the aid of computer hardware, software and virtual world integration technology, which can simulate the real world dynamically. The dynamical circumstance can make reaction according to people’s form, language and so on immediately, by which a real time communication is formed between people and virtual world. Therefore virtual reality technology has been applied in sports training, competitive sports, etc. and is playing a significant role in sports field.

Virtual reality is a virtual or simulated three-dimensional environment that is generated by a computer. It is typically experienced through a helmet or headset with a built-in screen, which deliver audio and visual stimuli to the user. Virtual reality in sports is being widely adopted across the industry for a variety of uses. NFL teams are using virtual reality to help train their quarterbacks through additional mental repetitions. Major League Baseball and the National Football League are using it to help train umpires and referees. MLB teams are also exploring its potential to help batters prepare for pitchers. Athletes are building their brand by creating virtual reality content for their fans.

Football teams are able to use eye-tracking data recorded in a virtual reality environment to detect concussions in players. Startups are experimenting with offering full-body virtual reality video game experiences. Pro golfers are providing virtual lessons for fans. NBA players are finding opportunities to enhance their free throw percentage. Teams see the immersive virtual environment as a new and unique fan engagement opportunity. Broadcasters are streaming live games in virtual reality and preparing to one day sell “virtual tickets” to live games. One of the biggest NBA free agency signings in history happened because of a virtual reality “sales pitch”. And the list goes on. How Virtual Reality is transforming the Sports Industry After a failed stint in the 1990s, virtual reality made its reappearance last year with headsets such as Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift. But this time, it’s here to stay and, in less than a year, it’s already drawn attention and investment from venture capitalists and tech giants such as Facebook, and has made huge impact across a great many industries, including sports.

Sports is one of the domains where technology is being put to use in the most effective and aggressive way. We’ve already become used to the presence of augmented reality (AR) in sports. Think about watching football without the projected first-down line or hockey without puck tracking. Now, with the sudden leap that VR has taken recently, the sport experience is being amplified and becoming more immersive in nearly every possible field, ranging from consuming content to training and recruiting athletes. Here’s how VR is revolutionizing sports, starting with the fan experience. With teams, leagues and brands consistently experimenting with and pushing the limits of virtual reality’s applications in sports, and major tech companies like Facebook, Samsung and Google making virtual reality headsets available to the average consumer, it’s a virtual certainty that virtual reality will continue to have major ramifications on the sports industry.

This is a boon to all those sports fans who can’t afford the luxury of flying half the world in order to see their favorite teams and athletes perform. In most cases, a VR headset and an app is all you’ll need to be taken to the stadium to look around for yourself as the action unfolds, all without leaving the comfort of your home. This is the most realistic experience you get from viewing a sporting event without actually attending in person. The Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games kicked off with the promise of solid VR coverage by broadcasting networks such as NBC and BBC — a first in Olympics broadcasting — viewable with VR headsets through their respective apps. VR broadcasting still being in its experimental stages, the only catch was that, but for a few exceptions, the events weren’t streamed until the day after they took place. Hopefully, the next Olympiad will see more live VR streaming. “While a fun concept, player-perspective VR cameras might not offer the best experience”.

The big leagues have also caught on to the potential value of the medium, and have been dabbling in it for a while by making considerable investments to bring the new experience to their fans. Using VR to train teams “Sports is one of the domains where technology is being put to use in the most effective and aggressive way.” Professional teams have long used the study of films to examine their own performance or assess opponents. But with the vantage point being much different from what a player experiences during the game, the results are not always optimal. / Figure 2 Now, coaches and players train better by watching and experiencing plays again and again in virtual reality.

This is the idea that, along with a $50,000 investment, got VR startup STRIVR Labs off the ground a year ago STRIVR creates VR training videos shot from the player’s-eye view of the action during practices. It then enables players to receive realistic, repetitive training by visualizing through VR headsets situations they will face on the field. For instance, quarterbacks can review the options and opportunities they missed by going through a play several times and reviewing each of their teammates’ positions. This helps football teams prepare players for games without requiring their excessive presence on the field, where they risk being injured and exposed to summer heat. Teams can thus increase practice time without breaking the stringent rules that both the NFL and NCAA (college football) place on outdoor practice.

Five college football teams enrolled in STRIVR’s technology when Derek Belch, the company’s co-founder and a former Cardinal kicker, went on a tour last spring, introducing his technology to different college programs. In June 2015, the Dallas Cowboys signed, on as well. Today, STRIVR’s system has become part of the training program for 23 college and professional teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, the Minnesota Vikings as well as one team each from the NBA, WNBA and NHL.

The company expects to announce a partnership with a Major League Baseball team soon. The impact of technology on the future of professional sports Virtual reality has yet to manifest its full potential in sports. For instance, it can make the recruiting process much easier by making college campuses seem much closer to recruits. Athletes can visit stadiums, locker rooms, weight rooms and practically every place and aspect of their future team in the immersive experience of VR — without leaving their homes and stepping on a plane. We may also see new sports emerge that are totally based on VR and its sister technologies, augmented reality and mixed reality. E-sports have been around for a while, though many would argue that video games don’t count as sports.

NextVR is the big name in the world of VR sports at the moment; they’re the ones who have been working to produce content with some little known organizations including: The NBA, NASCAR, The NHL, and FOX Sports. Furthermore, NextVR just finished raising $30.5 million in funding, with Comcast and Time Warner as some of the more notable investors. NextVR has a myriad of content available and recently has been tinkering with live VR streaming covering events such as the US Open, one of CNN’s Democratic Presidential Debates, a Golden State Warriors game, and more. The perspective of the live streams for all of these events was far better than you would get from watching in HD on your TV. Imagine being courtside watching Steph Curry in action, or being close enough to see the ball go in the cup as Jordan Spieth sinks a crucial putt in the US Open; one could argue that you might not get such an optimal perspective even if you were actually at these events.

Responses to these VR live streams have been overwhelmingly positive; and it’s not hard to imagine this as the future of watching sports. VokeVR, much like NextVR, is working to let you experience a courtside game from your couch. What’s unique about VokeVR’s approach is that they have 360 cameras mounted at key points at various stadiums which users view the event through. Another unique aspect of this approach is the ability to watch their content on any smart phone. While watching in VR enhances the experience, users can watch the 360 videos on their smartphones; but I assure you anyone who has watched a sporting event in VR would never opt to only watch it on their 7 inch smartphone.

The accessibility of VokeVR’s content is what sets them apart; people who are on the fence about VR can watch a game from their smartphone, and then when they feel the need to experience the full immersion of VR they can enjoy the same content and be floored by the difference in experience. EON Sports, is also a pioneer in the world of VR sports; but not in in terms of bringing you things you would normally see on ESPN.

EON Sports is creating training simulations for athletes, including things like being in a quarterback’s perspective during a football game, or a batting simulator for baseball. EON Sports has a madden-esque mode where you can get an overhead view of a sporting event for more strategic planning and a more unique perspective which may lend some previously unavailable insights to athletes and coaches. The important thing to remember here is that VR is not simply for entertainment, there are practical applications for it as well, and seeing EON Sports explore some of the practical applications of VR in sports shows a lot of promise for how VR can shape the world of sports, both on screen and off screen.

Beyond Sports, is another organization whose focus isn’t on the big screen, but on improving the performance of sports teams on the field. Beyond Sports main focus for now is on soccer, where they can produce simulations of games and various scenarios for training purposes, you can relive a soccer match from the perspective of any player, or enjoy a bird’s eye view for a more tactical perspective. It’s important for the world of VR that people do not view this technology as simply a medium for entertainment; the potential applications for VR are truly limitless and organizations like Beyond Sports are encouraging us to think beyond entertainment.

In 2015 Sports Illustrated surprised everyone when they announced that content from the infamous swimsuit issue would be available in Virtual Reality. Not so surprisingly people were very receptive to this move by Sports Illustrated and it raised a lot of awareness about VR for sports fans all over. A well-known organization like Sports Illustrated making content in VR is huge for the industry; it’s the household names that are going to attract the masses, and once they give VR a try they won’t want to go back. Virtually Live, like so many others in the space, is bringing sports into VR in an attempt to bring your favorite games and events to you.

Virtually Live places the user in a virtual world, in a stadium; the difference here is the potential for several people to be in the same instance at once and the ability to interact with other users. Furthermore, unlike other VR streams or 360 videos where the user is restricted to one seat, in Virtually Live the user can switch between several different perspectives in the stadium, including a VIP lounge. This is possible because the world Virtually Live places you in has the sporting event simulated in virtual reality; but make no mistake you are watching the same game as someone tuned in to ESPN, the only difference is a mere 6 second delay. A big part of going to a game is the tailgate; the social aspect is something which could be missed if you were watching a VR stream alone. The social aspect is a bit of a missing component in the world of VR sports right now; organizations like Virtually Live have the potential to bring social integration into VR sports which would be a major benefit to the industry and could be the first step for more socialization in watching VR sports.


The opportunities and possibilities are yet to be discovered, and we can expect many pleasant surprises in the near future. It would be an overstatement to say that virtual reality will soon eclipse real-life experience, but there’s no doubt that it will transform the sports industry forever. Education is the foundation for the development of all areas. The emphasis on physical education and cultivating innovative and compound talents in sports can ensure the progressiveness of sportsmanship spirits, promotion of mass sports, and the talents reservation for competitive sports.

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Research on Virtual Reality Technology in Sports Field. (2018, September 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
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