A VIR­TUAL HOME RUN

Fast Company - - Innovation By Design - —Ni­cole La­porte

Over the past decade, se­ri­ous base­ball junkies have been cob­bling to­gether mul­ti­ple apps and plat­forms to im­merse them­selves more deeply in the ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing live games, tog­gling be­tween TV, lap­tops, and mo­bile de­vices to see box scores along­side pitch lo­ca­tion and ball ve­loc­ity. Now Ma­jor League Base­ball has in­te­grated all of this data into a sin­gle plat­form by en­hanc­ing its pop­u­lar 10-year-old At Bat app with vir­tual-re­al­ity ca­pa­bil­i­ties. In ad­di­tion to lay­er­ing sta­tis­tics over high­def­i­ni­tion video of the game’s ac­tion, the app of­fers a catcher’s-view per­spec­tive that al­lows the fan to track each pitch as it ap­proaches and passes through a 3-D strike zone, show­ing the hot and cold spots for every bat­ter, cour­tesy of MLB’S Stat­cast track­ing data. MLB worked with TV man­u­fac­tur­ers to de­ter­mine the op­ti­mal curve of At Bat’s in­ter­nal video screen so view­ers can feel as close as pos­si­ble to the ac­tion with­out getting woozy. Cur­rently avail­able only on the Google Day­dream sys­tem, the app is aimed at view­ers who want the most im­mer­sive fan ex­pe­ri­ence avail­able, says Ma­jor League Base­ball’s senior vice pres­i­dent of games and VR, Jamie Leece, in­clud­ing par­ents who want to catch a game af­ter the kids go to bed, peo­ple who live far away from the clos­est ma­jor league ball­park, and cord cut­ters. “This is an op­por­tu­nity for them to have that liv­ing-room setup with­out hav­ing to in­vest in tele­vi­sion,” Leece says.

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