It was recently announced that San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of the Giants, will become home of an immersive virtual reality technology that will allow fans to experience the team’s play on a whole new level starting with the 2016 season.
The San Francisco Examiner reports that the team has been working on merging virtual reality with the ballpark experience since the end of the 2015 season with help from software developer Jaunt. Jaunt’s specialty cameras are designed record footage for virtual reality consoles. That is, they can capture 360 degrees of imagery that Giants fans will be able to immerse themselves in later by putting on a pair of VR goggles in AT&T’s @Cafe, located behind the central field bleachers.
The announcement was made by San Francisco Giants management at yesterday’s media open house at the stadium, where some lucky reporters even got to try out a demo of the final product. The demo consisted only of a smartphone rigged up to a harness to hold it in front of the eyes and a pair of headphones, but judging by reports, it provided a very lifelike and immersive experience.
The “virtual reality experience,” as it was called, was one of several upcoming changes to the Giants ballpark exhibited or discussed at the event, and reps such as Mario Alioto, the Giants’ executive vice president of business operations, told KRON-4 that the high-tech system will be a whole new way for fans to feel like they’re part of the action.
“You’ll be in the dugout, on the field, in the moment. You’re practically a member of the team.”
The only VR scene San Francisco’s reporters could test out at the time of the open house was one at a Giants spring training game in Scottsdale, Arizona, but Alioto continued that more locations, such as AT&T’s batting cages, the outfield, and Sergio Romo’s car (his words, not mine) would become viewable shortly.
ESPN has pointed out in the past that the San Francisco Giants are already very tech-oriented as far as MLB teams go. The Giants’ almost unparalleled social media connection program with fans and the cutting-edge facilities at AT&T park are almost constantly being tweaked to keep the organization at the forefront of the technology world. Because of this, the team’s adoption of VR was practically an inevitability.
“[This] is the year of virtual reality,” says Cliff Plumber, Jaunt’s president, likely referring to the fact that the Oculus Rift was recently released to mixed reviews and several other first-generation VR devices are to be released during 2016.
And because virtual reality is so big right now, the timing of the Giants’ announcement could not be more perfect. All the hype surrounding the long-awaited arrival of personal VR players means that the concept of virtual reality is at the forefront of pop culture, but the high price tag of actually buying one of those headsets as opposed to simply trying the San Francisco Giants system means that many Giants fans will opt for the latter.
San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer was among those who had a great time at Tuesday night’s event, but for very different reasons. He says that he and the rest of the Giants love the open house because it serves as a symbol that the season is about to begin.
“Every year, this is a favorite day because it means a lightbulb goes on and everything starts to kick in, in terms of the season being real and literally around the corner.”
And, as Mobile Sports Report notes, 2016 is another even year, which only adds to the excitement for the San Francisco Giants’ season. For those that don’t know what they’re talking about, the Giants have gone on to win the MLB’s World Series in the past three even-numbered years — 2010, 2012, and 2014. Just sayin’.
Are you excited for the new virtual reality San Francisco Giants experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!
[Photo by Jeff Chiu/Getty Images]