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Super-reality is coming to sports fans

Imagine you could experience the thrill of racing in an F1 motor car while sitting in your living room, or jumping off a cliff in a paraglider. That is the tantalising prospect sports fans could be offered with virtual reality (VR) technology, which immerses users into a virtual world. At yesterday’s Sports Venue Technology Summit, sponsored by Supponor, a panel debated the question ‘VR: even better than the real thing?’

Dave Elliot, enterprise business development manager, Holovis, thought that VR could be used to “extend the experience of the main event at a venue. What if you could experience walking through the players’ tunnel before the football match started?” But Jean-Luc Affaticati, CEO Digit Arena, said, “We are not focusing on bringing VR into venues, but using it to bring fans from the outside into them.” That was the majority view of the panel.

Samuel Westberg, director of sales EMEA, LiveLike, stated: “The quality of VR is not good enough to watch whole games – there are limits to the medium,” but added, “I think VR has the potential to become a media aggregator, and eventually, the main media to watch sports events at home.”

There was potential to make money from VR, said Elliot. “What if you could experience parachuting or high cliff diving without any danger? There’s pay-per-view potential for that.”

The panel concluded that, ultimately, the decision would be made by rights holders.

When the ISE Daily asked the panel if they thought that VR could become a commercial flop like 3D, Pieter Van Leugenhagen, business strategist, Yondr, said, “I don’t believe VR will be hyped like 3D. 3D was seen as a replacement for cinema and normal TV, but VR is not – it’s just a new medium that sits next to TV and cinema.”