ApplicationAR AppsAugmented RealitySports & Fitness

AR in Sports: Augmented Reality Apps that Bring Fans into the Game

Sports fans can get more into the experience with these AR apps.

One of the many ways that AR apps are revolutionizing technology is with the way that we view information. Hardcore fans know that sports have a lot of information to sort through, so it should come as no surprise that sports producers are teaming up with tech companies to give their fans augmented reality technology for sorting through all of the stats and figures involved in following your favorite teams.

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The MLB Ballparks App

About a year ago, Major League Baseball announced that they would be using augmented reality technology to instantly and more accurately record data, and to display that data to fans via an AR app.

MLB AR app
Source: MLB

The link above describes the AR features that are currently available in the MLB Ballparks app, though at the time it was an augmented reality addition to their existing At Bat app available for Android users and Apple users. There are some AR components left on the At Bat app. Specifically, you can see pitch videos in realistic 3D renderings of MLB ballparks, both for games that have already been played and live as the pitches occur. The MLB At Bat app has a lot of other content on it besides the AR content, including streaming games, so MLB doesn’t just give the app away. The app is technically free but requires a three-dollar per month subscription unless you already pay for MLB.TV.

The MLB Ballparks app, available for Apple and Android users, now has the augmented reality components that were originally part of the At Bat App. Point your screen at the green, and statistics display around the players at bass, allowing fans to be their own sports analysts. The app also uses Statcast, the motion tracking technology that MLB has been using for the last four years, to display real-time statistics like ball speed and trajectory. The MLB has Statcast technology at all of their ballparks, but the app information says that AR experiences are not always available and are not at all stadiums. Like the At Bat app, the MLB Ballparks app has a lot of additional features that are supposed to let you order tickets and buy concessions within the app, but many users have said that these features have major flaws.

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NBA’s AR Basketball App

NBA AR appAR apps aren’t only for baseball fans. The National Basketball Association has their own AR app available for Apple and Android devices. Earlier versions of the app had a lot of issues and while recent updates work a lot better, they also mean that the app is not compatible with many devices.

NBA AR Basketball has two interesting augmented reality components. The first is just a fun light game that uses your device’s camera to display a basketball hoop on walls or the sides of buildings. You can then take shots at it by sliding your finger on the screen. You can also share scores with friends and take photos and videos in the app.

The other part of the AR app allows you to designate an “AR Portal” and then walk through it into a 3D video recorded from an earlier game. The upside and the downside to the feature is that it doesn’t work during live games. It would be great for live games but because it only works with pre recorded games, the app doesn’t need a prescription service like the MLB app does.



Upcoming Apps to Watch for

Unfortunately, The National Football League and FIFA have yet to put out any unified AR apps for American football and football/soccer fans.

The good news is, these sports aren’t going anywhere, and AR technology is only becoming more popular. With the success of augmented reality components of the NBA and MLB’s existing apps, it’s only a matter of time before other popular sports catch on.

AR company Float Hybrid has teamed with Budweiser and three NFL teams to develop an augmented reality experience that let fans take photos of themselves in facepaint or the helmet of their favorite teams. So far this program is only one component of the mobile apps of the Denver Broncos, the Houston Texans, and the Philadelphia Eagles. The app has been fairly popular and has caught quite a bit of press, so hopefully more complex apps for more teams are on the way.

Soccer fans can be excited about upcoming AR too. College students at the University of Washington are working on a system that would project a 3D match onto a tabletop. While the project has come a long way, it’s not quite ready for public sale.


Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance journalist with special interest in emerging technologies. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you have a story suggestion for Jon, you may contact him here.