Extended Reality Gaming And The Future Of Sports (infographic)

Move over, virtual reality and augmented reality. Extended reality is the new kid on the block. This technology is being used for everything from business meetings to virtual travel. It encompasses the same projection technology that blends our perceptions with new realities as well as more modern ways to interact with those new realities. Now this technology is also being used to develop realistic sporting interactions complete with competition.

Extended Reality Is On The Rise

The popularity of AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), and XR (Extended Reality) technologies is on the rise. By 2023, the market for these technologies is expected to reach $18 billion. This has partially been spurred by the pandemic. People have been unable to go on their vacations, finish their education, and go out for entertainment. Virtual ways of interacting with others has proven to be valuable during social distancing, but these technologies have also allowed us to experience new things without having to leave the safety of our homes.

Extended reality, which includes VR, AR, and mixed reality, has been a great way to stave off cabin fever. It allows people to meet virtually in a way that feels more realistic than a video conference. It allows students access to immersive experiences of historic places. It allows people to feel like they are exploring the world.

Museums and historic sites throughout the world have offered virtual tours to keep visitors engaged while travel was restricted and doors remained closed. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, The National Museum in New Delhi, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea are just a few of the many museums offering virtual tours and educational opportunities to those sheltering at home.

Historic sites offering free tours include George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the terra cotta warriors of Xi'an, The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, NASA research and training facilities, the ancient site of Petra in Jordan, and many more.

For most of these tours a simple Google Cardboard and your smartphone will do the trick, but of course the more sophisticated your equipment the better your experience.

Upping Your Extended Reality Game

The entertainment value of extended reality is vast. On the Oculus Quest you can climb mountains or train on a lightsaber. These activities can help you feel that you are escaping reality while also getting a little exercise to boot. While these aren’t the only options for virtual exercise, there are emerging technologies that specifically work to train athletes and sports participants in their favorite sports.

On the Pregame Golf Simulator you can practice your game at your favorite fantasy golf course. The VR Tennis Trainer helps you practice your movements with an AI trainer. The possibilities are endless. These types of simulations work for everyone from the casual player to the athlete training for competition.

For people who participate in organized sports, continuing training regardless of whether the gym or training center is open is crucial. Extended reality gives athletes the opportunity to stay connected and on top of their game.

The Future Of Extended Reality As A Social Platform

Now that many states are beginning to cautiously reopen, people are looking for safer ways to get out and enjoy activities. Social distancing in many traditional activities might not work so well - going to a movie theater and eating popcorn with a hundred other people might not be super comfortable for the foreseeable future. Going to a traditional arcade might have the same effect.

Extended reality gaming centers might offer a solution to the problem. People want to play a wide variety of sports and games, but doing so safely while practicing adequate social distancing and sanitation presents a challenge in their traditional format.

There are a few solutions here. Virtual reality centers that offer immersive experiences on a one-at-a-time basis can be cleaned and sanitized between players. This ensures that social distancing guidelines are met, since virtual reality headsets block out outside information by definition and a player could easily forget their surroundings.

This can include both arcade-style gaming and video game centers as well as eSports type game centers. Both are going to be in high demand as the need to social distance continues. People are looking for literally anything they can do to get out of the house safely right now, and virtual gaming might be just the thing. Individual rooms or pods can add safety for players and spectators.

Extended reality facilities for digital sports can offer individual pods for players that not only immerse them in a virtual world, but that also keep them properly socially distanced. These pods can simulate multiple different types of games, and the gameplay can include real sporting equipment complete with sensors rather than a controller.

The Pandemic Has Changed Everything, But Will These Changes Stick Around?

The pandemic has made playing sports the traditional way too unsafe. There’s also a greater need for safe physical activities for people who are cooped up at home waiting the pandemic out. The World Health Organization has recommended daily physical activity during the pandemic to not only keep our bodies healthy but also to keep our minds strong. Having new options for physical activity is going to be more crucial than ever as the pandemic wears on.

But even after the pandemic passes, chances are it will be difficult for many of us to get past our newfound germophobia. We will have a heightened sense of danger in public places for a long time to come, so making adjustments now doesn’t mean it will all be abandoned as soon as there’s a vaccine. This pandemic is fundamentally changing the way we live our lives, and those changes are going to be hard to shake.

Extended reality sports are just one of the many worlds this new technology is opening up to us. Learn more about the future of XR sports from the infographic below.

Virtual reality has given us a great outlet for exercise and exploring during the pandemic, but the future is extended reality (XR). This infographic outlines how sports could go virtual to accommodate social distancing and beyond, complete with virtual tournaments and more.

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