The beginning of a football season is always a special time in the year. I never understood that when I was younger, but football is essential to American culture. It doesn’t just provide relief from all the stress at work and in everyday life, but, more importantly, it brings different generations and families together. And although it has been with us for more than a hundred years, apparently it still has room for improvement.
And it’s not just football, either. Whatever your poison is… Baseball, Nascar, Indycar. All of the sports are there to take time off of our lives and to enjoy time with our fathers, children, families,… Different generations rooting for the same teams, buying sports memorabilia that is then passed on to the next generation, providing an almost irresistible bond between a person and his or her home team.
So with the football season now underway, we decided to dedicate this article to sports. Specifically, how Augmented Reality impacts sports. Not in the future.
Augmented reality in stadiums
The first and perhaps the biggest change will come directly for sports fans enjoying live games at stadiums.
Watching games directly at stadiums is one of the best experiences sport has to offer. But some people think it can be improved even further. How would you like a live experience at a stadium, with the addition of all the statistics, replays, and all other data that is available to you when watching the game on TV or online?
We are pretty sure advertisers will figure out a way to improve the experience further by offering special discounts just to people at stadiums, you will probably be able to bet via your glasses as well and perhaps even order a beer. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!
The technology was presented at CES 2018 and although not yet fully implemented it is expected to be commercially available in a relatively short time.
Augmented reality in sports team marketing
Sports teams and stadiums were among the first who have figured out, that an amazing AR experience can quickly lift people for the upcoming game. Creative marketing experiences don’t just promote the event, but also excite people and can bring entire cities to life. Check it out in the video below:
Not just a sports team as well. Nike (who else) created an in-store augmented reality campaign featuring Lebron James in the LA Lakers outfit. Lebron would jump from the wall and perform his signature slam dunk on a basket in Augmented Reality. Awesome!
Augmented Reality in broadcasting
If you like watching sports on TV, don’t worry. Broadcasters have not forgotten about you. FOX, SkySports, ESPN… all the big media houses are already using Augmented Reality to improve, enhance and augment your experience as much as possible.
By using this awesome new technology, broadcasters can display additional information on TV screens, show animated replays and animated predictions, provide in-depth play analysis with 3d graphics, explain the viewers game strategies by using objects, that are not really on the court.
All this makes for a more entertaining, more engaging experience, bringing viewers closer to the action and make them feel like we are more involved in the game. Amazing!
Augmented Reality and advertising segmentation
You will never notice this as a spectator, but advertisers found that they can use special digital boards (created by Supponor) around the stadiums and display them differently for each user. How, you ask? There is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo behind it, but let’s just say technology allows for magic to happen. Basically, Coca-Cola can now promote itself on TV, but only for the viewers in Indiana, while Pepsi will buy the ads for New York. Pay attention to ad boards in the video:
The companies are already using this in different sports, with ad boards popularity quickly gaining traction. In the future, the boards will surely allow for targeting specific people. Families watching the game on television screens will be served with Happy meal ads, while single people will see ads for online dating.
Augmented Reality for fan experience
With the last paragraph, we return to the beginning and the live fan experiences. Coming to a race, a match, a game, is not just about the game itself. It is about the atmosphere, the hot dogs, merchandising stands and about the pure amount of like-minded people in the same place.
Mazda decided they want to offer even more. The Japanese car manufacturer did an incredible campaign, using AR to augment the fan experience by letting them become part of the pit crew in a race.
All in Augmented Reality, of course, so there were no injuries and no missing wheels on Mazda’s racing cars. The campaigns simply show, how AR and new technologies can help brands form a lasting bond with fans, who in return get an even better experience at the venue. Kudos, Mazda.
There is no denying that new technologies, such as Augmented and Virtual Realities will play a big part in the years to come. What is more surprising, is the fact that a lot of the fun experiments with new technologies are happening today. Not in five years, not in ten years, today.
Brands are realizing that the traditional way of doing things is losing its power. They desperately need and want to change their ways to improve the experiences for their customers and form a long and lasting bond with them.
And that is a good thing. Because it means a bigger, better and more exciting experience for us — sports fans.