Watching the game on TV is no substitute for the real thing. Nothing compares to being in the stadium, watching the action unfold right in front of you as the crowd roars on each play. With that being said, however, advances in technology mean that TV is giving the live-stadium experience a run for its money: Now, you can see ultra-high definition images and instant replays all from the comfort of your own home. And with new innovations rolling out on a near constant basis, this trend towards as better sports’ experience from home will only continue.
This past Super Bowl marked the first of what is likely to be a momentous shift in how we digest our daily doses of sports. For the first time ever, virtual reality (VR) enthusiasts were able to view the Super Bowl in fully immersive 3D, thanks to Fox Sports’ recent partnership with LiveLike, a startup that specializes in evolving sports broadcasts into captivating virtual experiences. Miheer Walavalkar, LiveLike’s co-founder and chief business officer, said that the Super Bowl and similar VR broadcasts are “all about seeing the game from a different perspective.”
With six cameras broadcasting a simultaneous 4k feed of key plays from all angles, VR-equipped Super Bowl fans were certainly treated to a perspective unlike any other. A “virtual stadium suite” accessible by VR headsets covered the field from all angles, presenting fans at home a 360-degree, full field viewpoint previously available only to players. Through VR, fans weren’t just watching the game. During the 16 major game highlights that were shown in real-time VR, fans were practically next to players, witnessing the action unfold from only steps away.
Football fanatics aren’t the only ones interested in VR’s potential, however. Major players in the tech game, such as Facebook, Samsung, and Google have dedicated significant resources toward pioneering VR’s growth; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even gone so far as to call VR “the future of computing.” Considering that Facebook, Twitter, Sony, and Amazon are preparing for a bidding war to secure rights to live sports broadcasting, it’s not a stretch to suspect that VR and live sports will likely share a cozy relationship in coming years.