Virtual Winter Games are Here

If you have been waiting for the breakthrough arrival of virtual reality in sports programme making, then wait no more.

NBC who will carry US coverage of next months Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang has announced that it will provide more than 50 hours of live virtual reality coverage powered by Intel True VR during the Games.

Viewers using Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Samsung Gear VR, and both Google Cardboard and Google Daydream, with compatible iOS or Android devices will be able to watch the coverage using the NBC Sports VR app.

It will be the first time ever that VR will be available for a Winter Olympics and that Olympic VR programming will be live in the U.S on a wide range of devices and platforms.

The more than 50 hours of live VR programming will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, big air and more.

In addition, NBC Olympics will offer VR replays of all events previously live-streamed; one daily 360-degree video of a sport not available in VR the previous day; and packaged highlights from the day before.

The VR experience is enabled by Intel who became Top Olympic Partners in 2017. This is their first games with an involvement and have clearly been intent on making a splash.

Multiple camera pods at each event will create interactive 360-degree virtual reality environments. Viewers will be able to customize their experience by switching between multiple vantage points, hear natural sound captured at each camera location, and enjoy real-time stats, leaderboards and post-event results. Viewers will also be able to “fly” through the Olympic world, tour Olympic venues and different areas throughout Korea.

“The Olympics have long been an opportunity to showcase emerging media technology,” said Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics. “With the help of Intel’s industry-leading virtual reality technology, NBC Olympics will deliver a transformative experience that will bring to Olympic fans an entirely new perspective on the speed, thrills, and excitement of an Olympic Winter Games.”

“The Olympic Games is a unique opportunity to bring people from around the world together to build camaraderie and cheer for their favorite athletes,” added James Carwana, vice president and general manager of Intel Sports Group.

“We are enabling a truly immersive experience, where fans get closer to the action than ever before allowing them feel like they are sitting in the stands for a front and center view of history being made.”

It will be fascinating to watch the take uop and the user xperience data generated by this substantial step forward in the use of VR.  If it works and gets acceptance from the viewing public it is likely that it will become almost the standard way to watch within the coming years.  It could be as big a step as that from black and white to colour television

Image Credit: Samsung

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