One of the most natural applications of virtual reality aside from gaming is that of VR in live sports, allowing viewers to experience sporting events as if they were sitting right in the front row. Virtually Live is a startup that is rising up to offer real-time VR content for sports that is digitally rendered.
“Virtually Live is where we bring live sporting events into the virtual world…Our proprietary technology involves taking raw data and visualizing it in real time. We put this raw data into game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine 4 to recreate the event in an interactive digital space.”
Virutally Live have partnered with a group called STATS to get the raw data of sporting events. This data is then fed into running reports of X, Y, and Z coordinates for every player on the field in a given sport and from that data the company is able to tell if the player is passing, shooting, and, if he’s jumping, how high. This data is then imported into a program that brings the data to life with Virtually Live’s own proprietary design. The company also uses on-site motion capture cameras to further track the actions of the event and can also tap into existing broadcast methods, incorporating any digital media included in, for example, television to compliment the renderings.
The benefit of viewing an event in virtual reality is not only the ability to view the event from the pit lane or front row, but also the added social interaction enhancements VR brings. Will Winston, media director at Virtually Live, thinks the social interaction will be a big part of the product:
“There are times when you’re watching sports alone and that’s an isolating experience and that’s very distant. Never before have you had so much freedom and interactivity with the sport,” he said. “Now we can put you all in the same stadium again together watching in ways that TV can’t really provide.”
Virtually Live is planning on supporting the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR. The product still has a way to go in refining the digital modeling used to represent the real-life data, but the company is having conversations with the sports involved to improve the experience. Currently the offerings are Formula E Racing, Scottish League Soccer, and historical matches for more notable sports such as baseball, football, basketball, and hockey.
Keep your eyes peeled to VRSource for more news about Virtually Live as it develops.