Everything you need to know about VR and AR at the 2018 Olympics, and how to livestream the main events on your headset with the NBC Sports VR app.
The long awaited 2018 Winter Olympic Games open today – February 9th – in PyeongChang, South Korea, and promise to bring fans an immersive viewing experience unlike anything before.
In order to innovate the way that fans experience sports, NBC has partnered with Intel to produce VR coverage of 30 events: downhill skiing, halfpipe snowboarding, figure skating, and of course the Opening and Closing ceremonies. About half of those events will be broadcasted live.
VR users can customize their experience with access to leaderboards and the ability to choose which camera angle they would like to view their favorite event from thanks to Intel’s True VR camera technology which consists of twelve 4K resolution VR cameras. For example, viewers will be able to choose what side of the mountain they want to be on for skiing events, or if they want to be at the top or bottom of the halfpipe when they watch their favorite athlete begin their run. Aside from getting a front row seat to several events, VR users will be able to enter and leave the Opening and Closing Ceremonies with the athletes themselves providing a full-blown immersive experience.
How to Watch the Olympics in VR
The immersive VR experience in PyeongChang will be easily accessible though the NBC Sports VR app. This app is available for download on many devices, but users must provide proof of NBC service through their cable or satellite providers in order to livestream. The app is compatible on many headsets including Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream, Microsoft Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard. NBC is also enabling iOS and Android users to be able to download the NBC Sports VR app and view 180 and 360 degree videos of the events on their smartphones – no headset required.
Athlete VR Training
Not only is VR being used to engross fans within the content, but VR is also being utilized by athletes in order better train and prepare for their races. For instance, the U.S. Ski Team has been using VR in order to familiarize themselves with ski courses prior to their races. They are doing this through the use of STRIVR’s 360 degree video footage of the course, which athletes view on both Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear headsets. Their VR experience isn’t just limited to the headsets: their experience is also paired with balance boards which tilt in accordance with what they are viewing through the headsets in order to simulate real-life sensations of what they may experience on the slopes. It doesn’t stop there – athletes are also able to adjust the time of day, visibility, or various weather conditions they may experience in order to get familiar and comfortable with any weather condition they may run into during their actual Olympic event.
AR Navigation in PyeongChang
Aside from the use of VR for athlete training and viewers experience, AR will also be used as a tool to assist fans and athletes with how to navigate themselves in an unfamiliar city. This AR experience will be through the use of an app called AR Ways which is going to be available for iOS and Android users. This app will guide its users on how to get around in an unfamiliar city by helping them find their way around the Olympic grounds and utilize transportation around the city.
Through the use of VR, the 2018 Winter Olympics will be the beginning of a whole new way for fans and viewers to immerse themselves in a true Olympic experience by bringing the viewer directly to the center of the action.