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Future Tech: 

Watch boxing from ringside with virtual reality


Ringside seats for the price of a Google Cardboard headset.

Virtual reality is set to be a big deal in 2016, tipped to transform the world of gaming and enhance viewer experiences in TV, movies and more. Now, you can add sports to the list.

In the most recent attempt to intergrate 360-degree video into sport, American premium cable network, Showtime, released an “immersive video version” of a fight that it broadcasted live on Saturday night. The fight (for those boxing fanatics out there) was between Daniel “The Miracle Man” Jacobs and Peter Quillin, representing the first time that a full professional boxing match had been presented in virtual reality.

Given that it was the first ever attempt to bring boxing to the virtual world, there were obviously going to be a few kinks, one of which was the fact that the YouTube version only really gave you one angle to choose from and it was one that didn’t really give you the best view of the pulsating action in the middle of the ring. This, though, might easily be amended with a few extra cameras strategically placed around the ring.

It’s not the first time a high profile sport has tested the waters of virtual reality. In October, the NBA tried their hand at 360-degree video for the game between the current champions, Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans. Much like the boxing, this was the first time the NBA had experimented with virtual reality and though it had its share of issues (not being able to read the scoreboard for one) it showed that there is definitely scope to make this the future of court-side viewing.

The NBA match made use of the Samsung Gear VR device, while the boxing utilised both Google cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR headset via an app called Milk VR.

Together, both these events represent a bold step for the future of sports viewing, one that could truly be a game changer if they could just iron out a few of the kinks that inevitably accompany a brand new product. Showtime says it’s also planning to delve a little deeper in to the realm of virtual reality, so stay tuned for further developments.

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