The race to develop a successful “metaverse” has been been fiercely competitive over the past few years.
I experienced a version of the metaverse while attending a live NFL football game.
It was a fun experience, but there are some kinks to be worked out. Check out what it was like:
The “metaverse” has been one of the hottest topics in the tech world for the past few years.
Major companies like Roblox, Microsoft, Meta, and Apple are all competing to create immersive virtual worlds where people can socialize, play games, and possibly one day go to work.
But those companies aren’t the only ones working on virtual experiences: I got to experience an early version of the metaverse at a Los Angeles Rams football game at SoFi Stadium this month.
The experience was created by the augmented reality platform ARound, which partnered with the Los Angeles Rams and SoFi to create a fan-focused version of the metaverse.
ARound is an augmented reality “fan engagement platform designed to enhance gameday fun with live, real-world AR experiences,” according to the company.
The app includes a shared AR experience where people can view and interact with the stadium through their cell phones. “If there’s a bad play on the field, you can throw a squid on it. If there’s a celebration moment, you can launch confetti at it,” said Josh Beatty, Founder & CEO of ARound.
Beatty said he plans to add a feature where app users can play catch with strangers across the stadium. Those watching from home can play too, even during commercial breaks.
“The metaverse has been talked about a lot, and I truly feel like we actually found it before anybody else,” Beatty said.
The new Rams experience comes at a time when sports stadiums have expanded their offerings to become full-scale entertainment hubs; AT&T stadium has a 59-piece art gallery on sight, and the NFL recently signed a deal that might one day lead to adding slot machines in stadiums.
“Every second of the game is planned out, but who’s to say that everyone wants to enjoy it that way, so we want to make sure we’re providing different ways for people to engage with the game and keep them excited,” Marissa Daly, the Los Angeles Rams general manager of media, said.
I got to experience ARound’s new Rams experience firsthand at a game against the Seahawkes at LA’s SoFi Stadium.
Fans were invited to download the app through a QR code that was flashed on SoFi’s 70,000-square-foot “Infinity Screen,” which wraps around the entire field.
It was fun to see how many other fans interacted with the app by throwing donuts, squids, and beachballs onto the field.
There were special graphics that popped up on the app when the Rams scored a touchdown. However, occasionally there were some kinks that needed to be worked out.
Overall, the app was cool to use, but I often felt a strong desire to put my phone down and watch the football game in front of me. It may be a bigger hit with kids with shorter attention spans for professional sports, though.
Josh Beatty hopes the experience will appeal to younger fans. “We really struck on the idea that this is really perfect for the young kids,” he said. “Right now, the biggest struggle with teams is how do you engage that younger fan, how do you make it so that there is a level of entertainment that they really want to participate in?”
Melissa Daly said the Rams organization already has plans to expand the offerings on the app.
“So many people are asking, ‘what’s your metaverse strategy? What’s your web3 plan? How are you engaging in this?'” Daly said. “We’ve put so much time and effort into wanting to make this as successful as possible. And we’ve already talked about how we can start doing things for next season and what we think it will look like.”
As with all virtual metaverse ventures in recent years, the question remains: is this a fad, or here to stay? The Rams metaverse offering is so far unproven, but it does show yet another real-world example of how augmented reality can be used.
Read the original article on Business Insider