How Virtual Reality Will Change the Rio Olympics

virtual reality at olympics

If you can’t make it to the Olympics in Rio this year it may be time to make some new friends– specifically Samsung Galaxy owners.

In a few short days, NBC and Samsung will be partnering to broadcast live virtual reality coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games, using Samsung’s own Galaxy smartphones in coordination with the company’s Gear VR Headsets.

Viewers with authenticated devices will have access to 85 hours of VR Olympic action captured through 360-degree cameras at the venues, specifically programmed for the immersive experience. But what will viewers see through their headsets that makes VR so special?


How VR Is Different from Cable Coverage

NBC will record every angle of certain Rio Olympic events with 360-degree video that, when compiled, will form a complete representation of all angles from where the camera is situated (which we assume will be a prime spot).

When wearing the Gear Headset, users will be able to turn their head and view the entire area as if they were actually sitting in the camera’s position, including looking up and down.

This means users can watch a gymnast’s beam routine then immediately look to the left and watch a vendor sell popcorn, as it actually happened from the camera’s view. VR allows users to choose which direction they want to look throughout the entire broadcast, so essentially, users could choose to watch the popcorn guy for the entire event (interesting choice).

What Rio VR Might Look Like

Want to see an example of how NBC’s VR Olympic Coverage will most likely appear to VR users? Check out a similar set up from the 2015 Vans US Open of Surfing. (Just imagine you’re casually turning your head to change angles instead of dragging the screen.)

NBC has announced that both the opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball — including the semifinals and final — gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, and fencing will all be covered in VR as well as traditional cable.

In addition, NBC will also be offering VR highlight packages of those sports for Gear Headset users, so fans can experience their favorite Olympic moments multiple times.

Thinking about Getting in on the VR Action?

Once you’ve got a Samsung Galaxy mobile device and the Gear Headset, which retails for $99, download the NBC app on your device and follow this instruction guide provided by NBC.

Let the games begin!

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