Thursday 18th April 2019


5 Unique Uses Of Virtual Reality At The 2016 Rio Olympics

5 Unique Uses Of Virtual Reality At The 2016 Rio Olympics

5 Unique Uses Of Virtual Reality At The 2016 Rio Olympics
This year, the Olympics were broadcasted in virtual reality exclusively on Samsung Gear VR

Virtual reality (VR) is a form a technology that has received a tidal wave of attention over the last several years. It has impacted the online world of video games, sports, and it is even changing how people are educated. Now as the 2016 Olympics carry on in Brazil, VR is also making an appearance on the world’s biggest sporting stage in innovative and varying ways. Below are five examples of virtual reality being implemented at this year’s Olympics that could make the Rio Games the event that technology historians point to as the tipping point for VR going mainstream.

1. Broadcasts

Over the course of the two weeks, NBCUniversal, which holds broadcast rights in the United States, will provide viewers over 100 hours of VR footage. In addition to the opening and closing ceremonies, full broadcasts of each sport, along with highlight packages will be available on a next-day basis. A full schedule of the events being streamed can be found here.

The BBC is also introducing a virtual reality service, which they describe as “experimental,” for viewers in the United Kingdom.  The broadcaster plans to deliver 100 overall hours of 360-degree video in a fashion that will be similar to NBC model, available to iOS, Android and VR headset users.

2. Hardware and Software

Of course, with all this footage being filmed in VR format, there needs to be unique means to watch it all. As the the official smartphone partner of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Samsung, and its Gear VR headset, will provide its audience with the immersive views from the center of the action.

Users who own one of Samsung’s numerous compatible phones will need to download the free NBC Sports app and authenticate their cable or satellite provider in order to gain access to the content.

The BBC has their own Samsung Gear VR-compatible app, BBC Sport 360, to go along with their virtual reality service. The coverage of the Games can also be viewed in 360 degrees through BBC Taster website.

3. VR-Vantage

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Image via @BAESystemsplc

Thanks to the VR-Vantage, the Olympic team from Great Britain is able to prepare itself for the unfamiliarity of the courses and venues in Brazil through 360-degree, 3D footage. Jointly created by BAE Systems and British government organization UK Sport, the main purpose is to help athletes learn environments thoroughly by method of virtual reality. Those competing for Team GB in sailing, canoe slalom and the triathlon could theoretically have benefited from using the device as they mentally train for what’s ahead.

4. VR Tours

At the Museu Cidade Olimpica (Olympic City Museum), located just north of Rio de Janeiro, visitors can  see for themselves many different popular locations and sporting venues around the city. Using special headsets, users are immersed in VR footage shot from from the air over places like Deodoro, Barra, and even Copacabana beach.

5. 360⁰ Virtual Tour

Want to see and learn about Rio de Janeiro for yourself but don’t plan on traveling there anytime soon? Google Maps has produced a 360-degree virtual tour called Beyond the Map in which users can explore points of interest around Rio for themselves. This tour is accessible through mobile browser or on YouTube where products like Google Cardboard can be used. Take in the surroundings as you ride through the city or admire the amazing views from Corcovado Mountain where Christ the Redeemer scrapes the sky.

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