Most of us can only dream of playing professional sports. However, augmented reality (AR) could soon turn these dreams into reality — that is, a virtual one.
This fall, the National Football League (NFL) will release its first officially licensed game for virtual reality platforms, ESPN reported. The “NFL PRO ERA” game will give players the ability to experience — in virtual reality — what it is like to play pro football. Using a special AR headset, players will be able to experience the game on a virtual field.
The game, which will be available on Meta Quest and PlayStation VR, and licensed by the NFL Players Association, will turn NFL fans into virtual NFL quarterbacks, giving them the ability to try to make plays they have seen real-life NFL quarterbacks make on television.
“When we think about this experience, you’re finally immersing yourself as the professional athlete for the first time ever and seeing it in a way that you’ve never seen it,” Troy Jones, co-founder of StatusPRO, the company that is developing the game, told ESPN. “It is the future, and we look at it as the new era of gaming and the next step in the way people will consume sports.”
How AR Gaming Will Improve Cognitive and Mental Health
The impact of AR gaming will be felt beyond entertainment. According to CNET, one area where it is already having an impact is on exergaming, a type of gaming that incorporates physical movement. Exergaming has been around for a while — with well-known brands like DanceDance Revolution, which made its debut in 1999. Researchers are looking into how to take the technology a step further by combining it with AR.
For example, the Pacific Brain Health Center’s “FitBrain” program aims to boost the mental function of seniors by merging cognitive exercises and physical exercise through stationary bikes and treadmills combined with 2D tablets or 3D VR headsets.
“Physical exercise is probably one if not the most well-validated interventions to improve both general health and also brain health or brain function or both,” Dr. David A. Merrill, an adult and geriatric psychiatrist and director of the Brain Health Center, told CNET.
Technological Advancements in AR Will Create a More Realistic, Immersive Experience
While AR has been around since the 1990s, the technology has become much more advanced in recent years. Improvements include features that allow players to better interact with the virtual environment. According to CNN Business, researchers at Salzburg University developed an AR mask that players can breathe into, allowing them to blow out candles, blow up balloons, and more in a virtual world. Meanwhile, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University equipped an Oculus Quest 2 headset with ultrasonic transducers that produce ultrasonic energy, which points at a wearer’s mouth in order to generate unique sensations, such as the feeling of wind on your lips, PC Gamer reported.
These AR advancements are only the beginning. With the rollout of 5G networks across the world – a development that will allow for faster internet speeds and the transferring of enormous amounts of data necessary to support advanced AR gaming – it is only a matter of time before AR gaming becomes widespread.
Practical Applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Business and Society
One aspect of video gaming that makes it unique is that it has always been driven by the desire for maximum fun, not the need to solve a specific real-world problem. This has driven both the development and commercialization of new technologies.
Enroll in Practical Applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Business and Society: The Case of Gaming on the IEEE Learning Network to discover the impact of video games as a $160 billion USD industry on the evolution of real world intelligent and immersive realities.
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Rice, Andrea. (17 May 2022). VR Exercise Games Could Offer Hope for Delaying Dementia. CNET.
Corrigan, Hope. (9 May 2022). Scientists add mouth haptics to VR, complete with spiders. PC Gamer.
Rothstein, Michael. (20 April 2022). NFL-licensed virtual reality game set for fall release. ESPN.