MLB embraces VR for immersive viewing experiences

MLB has a trick up its sleeve that will change the way viewers experience baseball and it’s a virtual reality system that was introduced by a Segway bot acting as a surrogate for Giants’ Chief Information Officer Bill Schlough, who is remotely controlling it from his office PC.

With the NFL and NBA both experimenting with VR technology, it is inevitable that baseball explores virtual reality for enhancing the viewing experience to keep up with the other sports. Developed with JauntVR, the Giants’ first VR feature is a four-minute tour of spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz, which contains an impressive mixture of batting practice with All-Star catcher Buster Posey, infield fielding with pitcher Johnny Cueto and jogging with World Series hero Madison Bumgarner.

This is just the beginning of what the Giants hope is an immersive experience that will evolve into changing the way the game is viewed and how the players are interacted with. MLB hope that soon virtual reality will allow viewers to enjoy the baseball game right from the dugout to completely change how the sport is broadcast.

“We’re in the very early days of VR,”  MLB Chief Technology Officer Joe Inzerillo says.

Similarly in Boston, the Red Sox produced a similar VR video, which the team considers is vital to engage kids for the next generation of fans. The video contained footage of spring training and the team plans on filming another this week in Boston.

VR could be the latest and most enticing toy, says Brad Griffith, CEO of online-ticketing service Gametime. “It’s like souped-up TV, the next level of watching a game from home,” he says. “Baseball is focused on getting the Millennial demo back into its sport, and pushing the envelope on new technology is the right approach.”

The Tampa Bay Rays are also using a VR simulation system from EON Sports as part of their batting practice to track the ball speed and movement to help their batters better understand the flight and behaviour of various pitches.

It seems that the use of VR extends way past just viewing the sport and has a very big part to play in MLB, which as the technology evolves and becomes more mainstream, should start to be revealed how the game is embracing this new technology.

Source: USA Today

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