Many of us pretend to be athletes with VR and AR technology that let us play games. Augmented reality visuals and motion control have gotten good enough that professional athletes are using it to improve their real-life game.
It might seem strange that AR technology could help an athlete get better, but if you think about it for a little bit, it makes sense. Coaches have been talking about visualization to improve your game for ages, and AR technology just does that visualization for you to help you get a more accurate golf swing, plan a more challenging run, or pace yourself for a more competitive swim or bike ride.
Of all of the AR technology described in this article, this application is one of the most visual.
With PuttView, golfers can see the calculated trajectory of their ball projected onto the green before they make their swing. This takes all of the guesswork out of beginning golfing but it can also help experienced golfers hone their game.
PuttView is currently available for indoor greens. In this application, PuttView is controlled by an app on a tablet and the information is projected onto the green by at least one projector mounted in the ceiling.
Puttview is also currently developing mobile AR technology in a headset-based console that will allow users to take PuttView outside and on the move. Unfortunately, the outdoor version of Puttview is still in development, though it is available for pre-order.
Solos AR Glasses
Devices like Fitbit and smart-watches with additional apps can do things like monitor your heart-rate and speed. While these are useful tools, they require checking your mobile phone or computer in the worst of cases, or looking down at your wrist in the best of cases. Even this can throw off your cadence if you’re running, or be dangerous if you’re biking.
Solos AR Glasses by Kopin use wireless AR technology to display biometrics, like heart rate and other statistics like speed and distance to goals, on a display that looks like standard sunglasses, so that you have hands-free access to all of the information that you need without taking your eyes off of the road. The glasses also respond to voice commands so that you can keep your arms pumping or your hands on the handlebars.
Your own pair of Solos will cost $500, significantly more than fitness trackers that don’t use AR technology. While it’s still a fair price for all of the tech that you are getting, it might be prohibitive for the standard jogger or biker.
Raptor by Everysight is a set of smart sunglasses that uses AR technology similar to that of Solos.
Raptor can track your heart rate, speed, and other metrics just like Solos, but has some additional bells and whistles. Raptor can sync to your mobile phone to display messages and alerts, and can play music to keep you in the zone. It can even take photos and record video with voice commands, though it also has simple touch controls on the frame and an optional remote.
While this may all seem a little unnecessary, one very practical advantage that Raptor offers over Solos is that you can special order prescription lenses that fit into your Solos set. Raptor lenses can also come in clear or tinted. It can also display route information in a gps-style layout.
Because Raptor has some additional accessories, they can be purchased in different bundles with the basic set-up costing the same $500 that Solos does or a model with add-ons for $549.
Augmented Reality Apps by Strava
You don’t need an expensive headset in order to incorporate AR technology into your workout routine.
Augmented reality apps from Strava run on your mobile device to show you interactive maps, help you design playlists for your workout and more.
Fitness AR in particular lets you map out your bike or jogging trail and see it in three dimensions so that you can accurately incorporate changing landscapes into your workout. The app also lets you and your friends share maps with each other to compare exercises, let each other know about favorite running or biking paths, and plan group trips together. Fitness AR is free on Apple’s App Store, and reviews are generally positive.
Swimming in AR — Still in Development
Swim AR is a heads-up display for swimmers that clips onto a regular pair of swimming goggles and projects statistics like timers, laps, and distance.
Swim AR is being made by the UK design firm The Imagination Factory and is teaming with technology giant Sony for all of the AR technology involved.
Unfortunately, SwimAR isn’t for sale yet, but developers are looking for serious swimmers to test it out.