Virtual Reality and Sports: Everything you Need to Know

18 January, 2020
Can you imagine the best athletes from your favorite discipline training in a small room by wearing virtual reality glasses? We’re getting closer and closer to that surreal scenario! Here’s everything you need to know about the complex relationship between virtual reality and sports.
 

Technology has produced (in recent years) unthinkable advances that have modified people’s lives in many ways. For example, virtual reality has allowed the entertainment industry and the sports world to merge through devices that cause incredible sensations. In today’s article, we’ll review some of the most important issues surrounding the relationship between virtual reality and sports.

The best way to contextualize the importance of technological advances we’ll witness in the coming years is with an example.

Focus on this: the NBA finals are being played, and a group of friends decides to attend the game. But, there’s a twist to this common situation. The friends will no longer have the need to move to the United States to witness this important event. They can do it from the comfort of their own homes!

With specific transmissions and devices such as virtual reality glasses, these guys could feel the same emotions as if they were witnessing the match “in real life”. This includes not only the game itself but also the atmosphere and the fabulous show that a true match implies. Isn’t it amazing?

Virtual reality and sports: how can it happen?

Of course, exactly how VR will infiltrate sports isn’t defined yet. VR is growing by leaps and bounds! At this stage, the only thing we can really do is speculate.

If you’ve never thought about the increasing role of technology and virtual reality in sports, here are some ideas. Virtual reality and sports could merge in so many different ways!

 
  • Spectators: people will be able to interact in captivating transmissions. There, the public could feel as protagonists of the actions of the game.
  • Athletes: with virtual reality, athletes will have access to much more realistic virtual experiences. In turn, this could even help them improve their skills in simulated, pressured situations.
  • Advertisers: from an economic point of view, this is a great opportunity for advertising and marketing. Because sports grab the attention of the fans, this can be a very fertile ground for advertisement placement. Another way to profit from sports that could be on our doorstep!
Virtual reality can be a revolution for sport spectators.

On this last point, that of the sponsors, there’s also a new model that’s already beginning to displace traditional television broadcasts. Through digital advertising, new media outlets such as smartphones and televisions can collect information about user interests. In this way, advertisers will be able to offer you exactly what you want based on your watching history.

New technologies in sports training

New technologies are already a part of the sports world. Some teams from the best leagues of different sports have incorporated technological innovations into their training.

 

This is especially true in the case of popular sports in the United States, such as soccer. In the US, organizations have made virtual reality devices available to players to practice real competitive situations in a controlled environment.

Thus, as reported in the NY Times, a soccer player such as Jet Toner can practice his field shots in an extremely realistic environment. That’s to say, not only the technical component of the movement can be improved, but also the external conditions that add pressure and anxiety to the athlete.

Of course, this kind of equipment is very expensive ​​at the moment. Although some devices go for $5,000, according to the NY Times, top-notch teams buy the latest tech for anything between $50,000 and $150,000.

However, there’s less and less skepticism about the effectiveness of VR training for athletes. Experts say that the effects on the concentration and control of emotions in elite athletes can be really useful to help them manage their emotions better even under stressful circumstances.

Virtual reality in other areas of life

Basically, VR devices replace the information that the senses send to the brain with other artificially generated data. For this reason, the key element in VR experiences is that the user must wear glasses that cover their eyes and ears.

Everyone expects a professional athlete to meet or exceed what is expected of him. How to handle it?
 

Nevertheless, VR can have other uses in everyday life. This is, of course, beyond the athletic experiences previously discussed. Here are some examples of virtual reality in other areas of life:

  • In the field of medicine: VR devices are used to train professionals in real situations – such as surgeries -. Doctors also use these devices to implement new pain or trauma treatment techniques.
  • Flight academies train pilots with increasingly real simulators. This lowers overall costs and risks. Before, trainees had to fly real planes! By using VR techniques instead, companies also lower pollution and budget. It’s a win-win situation!
  • The tourism industry already uses these devices to present potential customers with the beauties of a particular destination.

In short, with the rise of virtual reality, we’re witnessing a true technological revolution. Virtual reality will allow athletes, spectators, coaches, entrepreneurs, and many others from different industries to expand their possibilities in an incredible way. The future is unfolding before our eyes!

 
  • ¿Cómo cambiará la realidad virtual a la industria del deporte? 2018. BBVA. https://www.bbva.com/es/cambiara-realidad-virtual-industria-deporte/
  • Ramgopal, K. 2017. Virtual Reality Companies Are Changing How Athletes See Practice. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/24/sports/virtual-reality-athletes.html
  • Manca, P. 2017. La realidad virtual mantendrá encendida la industria del deporte. PwC Ideas. https://ideas.pwc.es/archivos/20171110/realidad-virtual-industria-deporte/?mc_cid=0ee3a3ec13&mc_eid=2cabf66fc0
  • Diferentes aplicaciones de la realidad virtual que pueden ser útiles en tu día a día. 2018. BBVA. https://www.bbva.com/es/diferentes-aplicaciones-realidad-virtual-pueden-utiles-dia-dia/