How long until Virtual becomes Reality for sport?
VR Glasses this, VR games that… VR, VR, VR. You may have heard, or you may be living under a rock, but welcome to the new big thing in sport.
Back in January, Marketing Week boldly (at the time) claimed that 2016 would be the year of Virtual Reality, that it’d be the new content marketing medium, and we’d all basically fall head over heels in love with this new technology. And how right they were.
Not even five months ago – 11th May 2016, to be exact – the UK was awash with talk of this new funky (but not very rainproof) device that would revolutionise your media intake in a whole new way imagined. Yes, Google Cardboard became a thing, and not before long a few eager PrettyGreen members tested, played, rode rollercoasters and explored museums, using just our phone and a bit of hard paper as if it was suddenly all too commonplace. Overnight, it was.
Fast forward to October. Present day. The era of even more firsts. David Beckham appeared on another green screen for Sky’s new VR app and upcoming campaign Sky Sports: Closer (the first here, we’ll point out, is for Sky, not Becks). BT Sport installed funky new augmented reality equipment in their studios for this coming rugby season to get closer to the action than ever, while those EE customers unfortunate enough to miss out watching their favourite football team in-person can now pop into a nearby store, stick on some goggles, and launch into swan song as they become engulfed amongst the stadium crowd in seconds.
It’s not just on the pitch, either. In time for the Ryder Cup (as Europeans, the less said of that, the better), Scotch whisky brand Ballantine’s launched a cutting-edge new game allowing users to ‘Call The Shots’ from tee to green, with a little bit of help from Ballantine’s golf club captain Paul McGinley. It was a world first for real world gasified golf content, and we can promise it won’t be the last.
Dare we say it, but this is just the beginning. Pick a sport, and we will get Justin Rose to bet you $100 that by the end of the year, there’ll be a new VR experience set up just for you, complete with an idea so absurd it shouldn’t be a thing – yet it will be, and it’ll work, and it’ll take off ruddy well too. So strap on your goggles, and get involved. Get your $100 bills ready. The future is here.