Could hands-free virtual reality transform the esports industry? – News Block

Technology has evolved exponentially in recent years. Affecting every industry, from business to healthcare to gaming, there are more opportunities than ever for users to experience immersive environments, AI-powered personalization, and even their favorite sport, all in a virtual world.

One industry in particular that is benefiting from increased adoption of AR?VR technology is esports. As sports in a digital realm become increasingly popular, the addition of virtual reality could usher sports fans into a new era.

As an industry expected to be worth more than $5.74 billion by 2030, esports is constantly changing, especially in the wake of Covid-19. As we saw that real sporting events were in short supply, eSports became a new outlet for both avid sports digital natives and avid gamers.

“The pandemic has definitely brought esports much more mainstream,” says Phelan Hill, head of strategy and consulting at Nielsen Sports. “Suddenly, I had esports recognition on major broadcasters. It was on the BBC and Sky in the UK. It certainly brought it to the forefront.”

As we enter a new frontier of esports, the question is, where might the industry go next? Growing in line with technological advances like hands-free virtual reality and haptic sensors, the future of esports is starting to look more like a real-life field, court, or race track. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what tomorrow has to offer.

(Image source: Blacksmith Studios)

A new era of esports

eSporting is certainly heading into a transition period. As popular esports platforms like Valorant and League of Legends embrace new realms of immersion, users are quickly finding themselves embodying the characters they play as and controlling their actions on screen using their bodies instead of a traditional controller.

Thanks to the birth of the metaverse and a series of developments based on XR, VR-powered eSports has become a new reality. With the ability to introduce haptic feedback, motion tracking, and action-driven gameplay, esports is becoming just as physical an activity as the sports we play on the field.

Better yet, virtual reality is also improving eSport viewership. With the ability to physically sit in an F1 arena or an intense boxing match from the comfort of your couch, it’s no wonder sports fans are taking advantage of VR-powered sports competitions.

Better yet, every spectator gets a front row seat at an eSport game. It’s never been easier to zoom in on a screen, change your viewing angle, and even customize your own stream.

The question is, as we continue to blur the lines between traditional sports and eSports, will the two industries ever combine?

Can virtual reality improve your sports skills?

Virtual reality is also improving eSports training. As a tool that aims to improve hand-eye coordination, VR headsets can place gamers in an immersive sports arena in seconds, removing distractions and external stimuli.

Better yet, virtual reality can even help esports athletes learn how to more accurately use their limbs and judge their surroundings when in-game or in battle. In fact, there are a number of different VR mini-games that eSport players can enjoy when training for their next competition.

Take fun and simple, for example. This helpful HEC creator uses eye tracking and motion censoring technology to teach the user how to juggle in VR. This increases coordination and concentration while teaching the user to become comfortable with distractions. While juggling, each user is surrounded by large, noisy crowds, which makes their task a bit more difficult.

VR is also a great tool to help you calm down before an eSports competition. Mindfulness apps like WiseMind are great HEC coordination platforms that also prioritize wellness. From learning Tai Chi to stacking rocks, you can also practice your HEC in a calming immersive space.

(Image source: VR Fitness Insider)

Free hands

So where will eSports go next? According to ESL Pro League Commissioner Alex Inglot, both the player base and the technology they use will continue to evolve in the coming years.

“The player base is growing all over the world. For example, CS:GO has reached a record of 1.3 million concurrent players in 2023. Without generalizing, the games are growing in users, in the community. I think a lot of investors are looking at the long term. Of course, there are some who are thinking, ‘What will I get in the next three to five years?’ but if they are allowed to be a little longer in the long run, esports should be in the portfolio. It continues to be a bridge to all of these exciting macro trends, be it virtual reality, the metaverse, digital asset valuation and cashing in,” he says.

The question is, could hands-free virtual reality take eSports one step further? As we welcome haptic gloves and suits, more ways to enhance immersion continue to enter the market. Many VR companies have already released full-body haptic suits, the goal of which is to physically place all parts of a player in the game.

From bullets hitting your skin to the sensation of kicking a ball, esports just got even more exciting.

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