Virtex Apps, LLC history/mission:
Virtex Apps created Virtex Arena, a mobile app enabling fans at sporting events and concerts to compete in stadium-wide augmented reality experiences. During half-time or other breaks in the event, a new virtual competition is started which fans can see on the field/court/stage with their own ...
Appeared in MarTech Series
Go to a sporting event today, and you’ll often see a competition involving one or two people while ten thousand others only watch. At some point, a simple shell game will appear on the video board, and fans can follow the action but not influence the outcome. With all the downtime in sports today, teams try harder than ever to engage fans through traditional means, but instead, fans often retreat into their own phones. But advances in Augmented Reality can...
Appeared in MarTech Series
Go to a sporting event today, and you’ll often see a competition involving one or two people while ten thousand others only watch. At some point, a simple shell game will appear on the video board, and fans can follow the action but not influence the outcome. With all the downtime in sports today, teams try harder than ever to engage fans through traditional means, but instead, fans often retreat into their own phones. But advances in Augmented Reality can change all of that, focusing fans’ attention back on their friends, the stadium, the event…and any sponsor featured in the middle of the action.
Advertisers and marketers have long been aware that people will be more receptive to messages they see in the midst of a good time. The brands featured on the scene will benefit by being associated with the fun, happy memories of the event. A recent LiveNation study went so far as to provide biometric evidence of fans’ heightened excitement and receptivity during live events. For this reason, as long as there have been modern sports stadiums and entertainment venues, there have been ads on screens, banners, signs, or playbills.
However, the presence of branding doesn’t ensure people pay attention. They may not glance up when your brand flashes by. Signage can be easily tuned out. It is better to keep people’s attention by enabling them to participate. But until now, options for a shared experience were exceedingly limited: Contests on the playing field with a few randomly chosen fans; prompts or themed cams on a jumbotron. Times are changing, however, and AR is poised to open up radically creative possibilities and transform the way we experience events.
AR commonly has involved overlaying an animation on an image or product, essentially showing a virtual advertisement atop a static one. Whether it’s pointing your phone at a bottle of wine, a traditional Chinese New Year’s doll, or an album cover image, there is little to no interaction. In cases like these, there’s simply not much else a user can do other than passively watch the scene, so engagement is limited.
However, activations are shifting quickly away from simple overlays to more intriguing approaches with a lot more creative potential and marketing power. Audiences should do more than just see AR, ideally. They should play, create, get directly involved. And they can do this on devices they already own and likely carry with them. Many fans will already have their phones out, capturing the moment for social media. Why not use these same devices to get involved in the game?
One new option is to have AR competitions that everyone in the stadium can join. Fans point their phones at the field, interact with some virtual scene in that space, and try to outscore ten thousand of their closest friends. Sponsors and brands can be slotted into these competitions in a variety of ways, ranging from something as basic as a logo appearing on the grass of the field to virtual planes pulling banners overhead and 3D corporate mascots cheering from the sidelines. Brands can even sponsor prizes, awarding items to the top players or even the section that scores the most.
Game design can further strengthen the brand’s association with positive outcomes. In our baseball version of Virtex Arena, for example, we have a simple but fun batting mini-game that gets users swinging to hit the ball. Before the game, which only starts during IRL game-play downtime, the audience can vote on which kind of bat they want to use. A brand can sponsor a bat, and in addition to visual branding, the bat can have special characteristics, like a more powerful swing. This further associates the brand with something that benefits a user, creating a link that can carry over into the real world.
AR can create a novel experience where anything is possible, but at the same time, it also keeps fans grounded in the world around them, focused on the real field, hearing the roar of the crowd as the virtual game clock counts down, scoring that final point to outdo their friends. By associating themselves with such unique, buzz-worthy experiences, brands can create memorable connections with fans and truly change the game.
Appeared in VentureBeat
Imagine 10,000 people simultaneously engaged with each other, all in the same place at the same time. A mixture of the real and virtual, where anything is possible, right in the middle of the big events like a rock concert or the World Series. That’s the potential of augmented reality at live events — especially how it could affect social media.
Thousands of users can now share a virtual experience merged with the real world using only their own phones and tablets. AR holds endless possibilities for planners looking to transform their event or environment from passive backdrop to active engagement site. The full range of creative implementations has yet to be fulfilled, but apps are getting simpler to create, deploy, and use. You don’t need a dev team to turn your site into an AR adventure.
Most augmented reality experiences focus on particular objects: You point your phone at a book, say, and the author jumps out and starts talking. Yet the real power of AR can be unlocked by thinking in terms of spaces like restaurants, stores, and arenas, and experiences that involve everyone in that space. Not only do these spaces lend themselves nicely to AR, they actively invite people to document and share their experiences. Fields that have begun to harness this potential for creative and social engagement include live sports, concerts, and social gaming gatherings.
Only recently did professional sports begin integrating augmented reality to increase fan engagement. The PGA Tour introduced an AR app earlier this year in that enables fans to experience the action from home, with the hole easily superimposed onto any flat surface. Another pioneering example is IoT/AR company Xperiel, who is partnering with pro sports teams like the Sacramento Kings, New York Jets, and Los Angeles Dodgers to turn stadiums into AR “digital ecosystems.” My app, Virtex Arena operates in a similar space, offering multiplayer AR games that appear on field during downtimes at sporting events. Although thousands of fans compete at once, everyone sees the action from his or her own perspective, as though the virtual characters were actually in the middle of the stadium.
With these technologies, the social experience of sporting events is transformed. Whether it’s interacting with others in the form of fun minigames or simply sharing the experience with others from any location, the shareability of these events due to this technology has great potential for its impact on social media.
This year we’ve seen some of the earliest implementations of augmented reality in live music. Examples include Eminem’s recent Coachella performance and U2’s tech-filled Experience + Innocence Tour, both of which used mobile AR apps to enhance the experience for those attending the show. If there’s one thing we know about concerts, it’s that people love to share their favorite photos and videos on social media. However, this content is usually not engaging for people who weren’t present at the show, since photos are usually taken from a distance and mobile videos don’t pick up live music well.
Augmented reality makes this content immediately more attractive. Because AR technology is propelled by mobile phones, capturing the technology in action couldn’t be easier, so any photos or videos of the show are automatically transformed into other-worldly experiences. Not only is it more exciting for those in the audience, but also for anyone who views the shared content as well.
In many ways, augmented reality’s momentum can be attributed to the launch of Pokemon Go just two years ago. Since its launch, the app has attracted a passionate group of users, and now has a strong enough following to warrant events like the recent Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago. These types of “global meetups” are significant because they are attracting people solely based on how much they like the app and its AR technology. Rather than supplementing an existing event, apps like Pokémon Go can create experiences that are fun and immersive enough to stand on their own, transforming physically empty spaces into virtual happenings.
Socially, these types of events have exciting implications as well. The point of these meetups is to connect with others who enjoy the game or technology, so right off the bat this equates to real-life interactions. Beyond that, the event is not much different than a music festival or Comic-Con, where people flock to a single location just to be with other like-minded and passionate people.
Nothing is more shareable and attractive than events that bring people together, and the resulting fear of missing out from those who see the content will engage and excite those who can’t be present. The Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago drew over 20,000 players, and this wasn’t to see a whole weekend of amazing music or a panel of Star Wars actors, it was just to play a single augmented reality game with others who love the game as well.
Such is the potential as the technology develops and users demand more from live and social experiences. Users don’t want to just watch content; they want to interact with it, seeking a unique experience that they can share with friends in person and via social media.
Jeff Green founded Virtex Apps in late 2014 to explore unique ways of combining real and virtual worlds using mobile devices.
Imagine ten thousand people engaging with brands and each other all in the same place at the same time. A mixture of the real and virtual, where anything is possible, right in the middle of the big events like a rock concert or the World Series. That’s the seeming magic of augmented reality (AR).
With mobile apps like Virtex Arena, thousands of users can share a virtual experience merged with the real world using only their own phones and tablets. AR holds endless possibilities for experiential marketers looking to transform their event or environment from passive backdrop to active engagement site. The full range of creative implementations has yet to be imagined, but apps are getting simpler to create, deploy, and use. You don’t need a dev team to turn your site into an AR adventure.
You’ll note I mention venues and locations a lot. Most augmented reality experiences focus on particular objects: You point your phone at a book, say, and the author jumps out and starts talking. Yet the real power of AR can be unlocked by thinking in terms of spaces like restaurants, stores, and arenas, and experiences that involve everyone in that space.
Virtex Apps has developed an AR platform that makes it possible to host multi-user virtual experiences in large-scale real world locations, such as arenas and stadiums, that requires only a typical smartphone or tablet. These experiences enable users to compete in fun games superimposed over their surroundings or to experience animated characters dancing or charging through their space. Participants see the same virtual scene at the same time but from their own perspectives. AR does more than entertain; it offers another way to get patrons to engage with their locale, and gives sponsors and advertisers a novel hook for customer attention.
As a cutting-edge technological approach, AR feels pretty close to magic. But its underpinnings are easy to grasp and suggest novel content and interactions. Think about it in terms of layers. The base layer is the app itself that a user downloads to a device. A location-specific layer on top of that adds features and graphics tailored to a particular location, such as the seating chart of a stadium. And a third, event-specific layer adds materials for a single event, such as virtual signage or even an AR version of the sponsor’s mascot. A user downloads the app once, after which the app manages the various layers to provide a customized experience in any location, potentially featuring a different sponsor every day.
As an example, Virtex Arena has several sport-specific versions, including football and baseball, in which everyone in a stadium can compete in short mini-games between innings or at other breaks in the action. The mini-games related to each sport are part of the base layer and are downloaded by a user. After starting the app, the user chooses the event she plans to attend, which occurs at a specific place and time. Then the app obtains the location layer for that place, which can have resources like the team’s colors, and the event layer for that time, containing images that will appear on a banner pulled by a virtual plane above the stadium. This kind of feature would work well in other settings and for other events, too. This is just one of several customizations AR apps like Virtex Arena support with no additional development cost.
AR promises to inspire a new type of social interaction, as people gather to engage via an AR experience for its own sake. In the long term, this kind of augmented experience should be so compelling that people would go to a venue, just to participate in the game. Virtual aspects, and perhaps some real world aspects, could be combined into a new form of interactive group entertainment, before or after an event. This promises a whole new range of experiences for venues and locales to offer potential clients--and the brands that long to interact with them.
Virtex Apps has just announced a partnership with Minor League Baseball team the Ottawa Champions. This comes after the augmented reality app’s initial Super Bowl debut in Minneapolis earlier this year and a run of MLB games with the newest baseball update. The first public launch of this partnership for a game is Tuesday, June 19th at RCGT Park in Ottawa, Ontario.
Virtex Arena enables fans to compete in easy-to-learn, stadium-wide AR games during downtime at live sporting events. The current baseball version has a hitting game and a catching game in which fans can collectively participate and compete against each other in between innings or other breaks in the action. The virtual games take place on the actual field, and every fan sees the action from their own perspective, anywhere in the stadium. The games also progress throughout the sporting event, keeping track of both team and individual scores.
The Champions, founded as a team in 2015, have already managed to secure their first League Championship in 2016. As strong community partners and fan advocates, the team and its management are eager to find new ways to make baseball fun for all ages and to give new opportunities for their fan community to engage.
“It’s exciting to find eager partners who saw the power of what Virtex Arena can do to enrich the game experience,” says Virtex founder and CEO Jeff Green. “Together we’re looking forward to engaging fans in an entirely new way.”
Virtex Arena has just released its latest augmented reality sports app, this time for baseball. The season is just kicking off, and several major games will guide the app’s first months.
“We’ve chosen some of the most popular, high-energy rivalries for our app’s debut,” says Virtex CEO Jeff Green. The Virtex Arena Baseball app is available via the Apple Store and Google Play.
Virtex Arena Baseball’s Big Games:
Giants vs. Dodgers: 4/27-4/28 @ AT&T Park (SF)
A’s vs. Orioles: 5/4 @ Oakland Coliseum (Oakland)
Yankees vs. Red Sox: 5/8 @ Yankee Stadium (NY)
Cubs vs. White Sox: 5/11 @ Wrigley Field (Chicago)
Here’s how Virtex works. In between innings, a virtual game appears in the middle of the field, and fans use their own phones to see and interact with the scene. “If you’re at the ballpark, you hold up your phone and see the event from your perspective. The view from behind home plate is different from the view at first base, as though the virtual players were actually in the real space before you,” explains Green. Real-time adjustments give different perspectives on AR characters and games on the field.
Baseball has a built-in cadence with downtimes that offer the perfect opportunity for AR games between innings. “Virtex gets viewers involved in a much more active, personal way,” explains Green. “They can feel more directly connected to what just happened or what’s about to happen on the diamond.” That involvement feels all the more potent when your team is playing its main rival.
Virtex is creating apps tailored to major league ballparks across the country, including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Virtex looks to partner with teams and sponsors to attract a wide audience, enabling thousands of people to participate in an event that can only happen at the stadium.