Personal Virtual Reality and Live Sports

WHITEFISH, MT / September 4, 2014 / The personalized, wearable, immersive digital revolution is upon us. From fitness-sensing shirts to smart watches to virtual reality headsets, companies are finding newer and better ways to satisfy the consumers’ desire for personalized, on-demand, real world information and even virtual reality. Google Inc. (GOOG) is leading the charge in some ways with Google Glass and the Android Wear operating system, and many companies are developing applications based on Google’s technology that expand the reach and capabilities of these pioneering systems. Facebook Inc.’s (FB) recent $2 billion Oculus Rift acquisition gives an indication of the value placed on emerging technologies in the space. In a parallel, related (and likely to converge) world, the NFL is partnering with Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) to outfit players with RFID sensors on their shoulder pads to collect data from games and to be used as part of a “second screen” way to enhance the fans’ experience.

At the same time, fantasy sports is growing and more popular. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, players in the U.S. currently spend about $4 billion/year on league fees, information materials and other fantasy-related expenses. It is a rapidly growing industry, reflected in the private company DraftKings’ ability to raise over $66 million in venture capital funding since November of last year. The consumer demographics are an advertiser’s dream – average age of 34; 78% college educated. Fantasy fans spend an average of nearly 18 hours per week consuming sports.

Now, imagine merging these two cultural phenomenons and offering sports fans the ability to not only watch their favorite players, but to experience what their favorite athletes experience, live and in real time.

Imagine adding the ‘feeling’ and ‘impact’ of sports, live and in real time, and taking fantasy football from statistics to a personalized virtual reality experience.

The consumer would be able to choose, for a fee, which players to ‘play-as’ and would be able to switch to other players as the game progresses.

How real is this? Real enough that two racing options which are currently available to sports fans, IndyCar 14 by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and NASCAR’s RaceView, are already heading in this direction. These second screen / over-the-top content offerings give race fans today the choice of which driver’s in-car camera to watch the race from and the ability to listen to live driver-pit crew chatter. They offer a personalized viewing experience - for a fee - that augments and enhances the television broadcast. Now imagine taking that experience a step further by allowing the race fan to feel what her favorite driver feels, to drive a simulated racer as her favorite driver, from that driver’s point of view.

In Lauren Helper’s August 8th article from the Silicon Valley Business Journal "The quantified All-Star: How wearable tech is changing the way pro sports are played, paid for and watched" this quote shows how real and how soon this future may actually be:

"There are also more exotic possibilities, like "4-D" sports viewing. Comcast SportsNet is about to embark on a partnership with the San Jose Sharks and Ohio-based Guitammer Co., which makes a product called “The ButtKicker.” Right now, the system transmits signals from arena sensors to in-stadium seats or at-home adapters that vibrate fan seats - but the potential exists to enhance that capability with wearable tech. “When a big hit happens and a guy smashes into the boards, you will feel it. Imagine each player wearing a chip in the shoulder pads."

This ability, to literally play as your favorite player, is the vision of The Guitammer Company (GTMM), which holds the patent that allows live haptic-tactile data ("feeling", "impact", "movement") to be broadcast as a separate stream of information, along with and in addition to audio and video.

In April of this year, during its "The Next Generation of TV is Here" (http://bit.ly/1vJxLai) presentation at The Cable Show in Los Angeles CA, Guitammer CEO Mark Luden spoke to this vision of live "4D" sports broadcasts and the ability of fans to experience what their favorite athletes experience, live and in real time.

Now, with the upcoming NHL season, it looks like Guitammer’s vision is becoming a reality which could soon be the next breakthrough in the personalized, wearable, immersive digital revolution and forever change the way broadcast sports are watched and experienced.

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Disclaimer:

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SOURCE: Emerging Growth LLC