O2 use Oculus Rift to create an immersive rugby experience

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O2 have come up with an intriguing new promotional wheeze to support their sponsorship of the England Rugby Team – they’ve used an Oculus Rift to put the person wearing it in the thick of a training exercise.

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The Oculus Rift, if you’ve not come across it before, is pretty close to being the “virtual reality headset” sci-fi has forever told us about. Worn like a helmet, it contains two screens that sit in front of your eyes, and a big pair of headphones, to create a fully immersive experience. What developed with gaming in mind, O2 are using the Rift for a clever little video experience.

As you’ll see from the video above, it isn’t a game they’ve made, but a 360-degree video of a training session with the team – which as it plays out, the wearer will be free to look in whatever direction they like, making it feel as real as possible.

The “Wear the Rose” sports experience, as it’s being called was apparently created using nine tiny GoPro Hero 3 cameras in a custom built gimble – I wouldn’t fancy being in a scrum with someone wearing that helmet. Apparently after developing the technology it took 160 hours of filming and 320 hours of further development to mesh it all together and create the final experience.

Personally I was hoping that “Wear the Rose” would be an immersive Labour Party experience – but I guess they can always make a Peter Mandelson’s Walworth Road Days sequel later.

O2 describe the training experience as follows:

“People will be transported into a world where they find themselves on the rugby training pitch, surrounded by familiar faces from England’s Elite Player Squad. ‘Wear the Rose’ allows fans to train with the England team, participating in genuine drills directed by England Attacking Skills Coach Mike Catt, which will take their senses to the limit and make them feel as though they have just stepped in for their very first England call-up.”

Hopefully the experience isn’t so realistic that at the end you get beaten up in the changing rooms and have your lunch money stolen by the kids who were actually good at rugby.

The good news too is that this tech demo isn’t just being shown off in the video above – but O2 will be offering fans a chance to have a go, with details due to be announced soon.

James O’Malley
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