Virtual Reality: How It Could Impact Sixers And NBA Fans


Every so often, the world of media is shaken up by some new technology, and the entire industry has to adapt. The NBA often goes along with this, as media is heavily involved with how fans pay attention to news, and more importantly, live games.

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When the radio came out, no longer did fans have to wait for the next publication of the paper to see who won the big games. They could listen to color commentary of them live, and be up to date. The television allowed for them to hear and see what was happening. The internet allowed us to break news right away, and stream games.

What’s the next media shake up going to be? In a world shaped by user submitted content and applications like Periscope, it’s hard to say what modern sports broadcasting will look like in a decade. It’s been a while since a truly brand new type of media has shaken up the sports world, but it looks like Intel may have an edge up on the game as far as what it’s going to be, and it looks like they may be a leader in the new industry.

Reading this article from them, I was intrigued with the idea of virtual reality and live sports.

"…viewers could see the game [US Open] from directly behind Jordan Spieth as he teed off. Participants were so close that the head of his driver swung inches before their virtual noses."

The virtual reality is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a camera system that allows viewers to feel like they are truly in a different place. With the right calibration, and sounds placed in the correct places, a viewer can truly be under the illusion that they are somewhere else.

While you can’t try out the visuals without some special equipment, you can try a similar effect with this video below. All you need is your eyes closed and a pair of headphones.

Cool, right? And that’s just a haircut simulation. Imagine having this simulation hearing the crowd cheer at the Super Bowl, or something like that.

The video is even more immersive, as our sight is one of our most beautiful senses. The virtual reality system works like the Oculus Rift video game system, if you know what that is. If you turn your head left, the cameras show you what is to your left. The same is for any direction, in 360 degrees. How is this done? It’s a rig of cameras that are placed in a spherical-like shape. Head to the Intel article to see what it looks like exactly.

The possibilities with this are endless. The cameras can be placed anywhere in the arena, allowing viewers to select a court side view, or press box, or pretty much anywhere in between. It’s a cool idea, but there are some issues.

Where would these large camera systems go? The much smaller ones often get in the way of games, and following LeBron James cutting his head on a camera, I’m sure players would have an uproar if these giant rigs were implemented near the floor of the NBA games.

Additionally, the start up cost to put these rigs in all of the NBA arenas would be costly, and I’m not sure all viewers would want to switch to this form of viewing, because let’s be honest, it does take some effort to sit on your couch and pan back and forth with the movement of the game. When it’s watched now, we get someone to switch the cameras for us, which is a luxury we actually seem to take for granted.

Additionally, with this personalized viewing experience, each person could put what they want on the screen. Other scores of games, Twitter feeds, you name it, it could be completely user friendly and customizable since the user has to wear a personal set of goggles.

This opens doors for plenty of careers. The programming that goes into setting up these cameras is intensive, and setting up and maintaining the rig themselves is a process, I’m sure. While this is a cool idea, and I could see this being widespread within the next few decades, at the moment the demand for something like this is small, so I have a hard time believing the NBA will invest money in it soon.

Still, it’s a cool idea.

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