This Week in VR Sport: AR For Football and Fitness

It is getting close to Christmas, the weather is turning cold (well, for some of us..) but the world of sports carries on regardless of the wind, rain or snow. This week is dominated by developments in augmented reality (AR) in sport, fitness and health.

Mapbox Acquires Fitness AR

An increasing number of people are turning to smartphone apps to help them get fit. AR apps have formed a part of this, such as Fitness AR, which helps users visualise fitness routines and plan out safe and productive cycling or running routes. Fitness AR previously worked with Mapbox to use its technology to build digital 3D maps to help endurance athletes visualise trail routes.

As reported by Sport Techie, Mapbox have now made a deal to acquire Fitness AR, which includes an agreement for Fitness AR co-founder Adam Debreczeni to help create AR and virtual reality (VR) apps for areas such as sport, weather, travel and videogaming.

“Designing augmented reality experiences for applications is still a very nascent field, requiring new tools and new thinking,” Debreczeni said in a statement. “With the Unity Maps SDK, Mapbox is the leader in the exciting new space of AR and location.”

“This is about building interactive experiences,” Mapbox CEO Eric Gundersen said in a statement. “AR is going to be bigger than the browser and bigger than mobile.”

A video demonstration can be viewed below.

UK AR Company Zappar Works with NFL Teams

It has become fairly common among companies and brands to attempt to engage with audiences by using VR and AR. Sports teams have been no different, with AR experiences being offered to fans across the world.

Though it is primarily US sports teams producing these experiences, isn’t just American companies that have been involved in their creation. UK-based VR and AR content company Zappar has been working with two National Football League (NFL) teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings.

The partnership with the 49ers allows fans to view AR experiences by using souvenir cups. With one of these cups, fans just need to open up the team’s official app to see some of the team’s most famous moments. With the Vikings, Zappar created an AR message which could be unlocked using the gameday magazine.

Sport Techie spoke to Max Dawes, Partnerships & Marketing Director at Zappar, where he said: “With the Vikings it was their awesome Executive Director of Digital Media & Innovation, Scott Kegley who reached out to us. The 49ers we met via Adept who are a really innovative sports focused fan engagement platform and who we now have a great partnership with. They have driven app downloads and truckloads of engagement. They have begun to build up a new media channel for these teams and they have added value to physical products.”

Asked how Zappar differs from its competitors in the AR sector, Dawes said: “Our mission as a business has always been to democratise AR and provide the least friction between a brand and their end user to deliver valuable and value-added experiences to drive affirmative actions. Typical AR and VR experiences in sport tend to be for much smaller audiences, VIPs, or experiential marketing stunts which reach a few thousand people. In addition they tend to rely on very expensive hardware which is mostly unattainable for most fans. We have built our platform to work for the least powerful devices up as opposed to the most expensive devices down.”

We’ll be back next week with more VR sport news.