Scientists predict critical role for metaverse in sport

THE SCIENTISTS have insisted that sport will be a “leading innovation driver for the metaverse”, at a meeting of specialists in sport, technology and artificial intelligence in London’s Olympic Park.

Speakers described the metaverse as a three-dimensional virtual reality, in which people can interact with digitally generated objects and images to “explore alternate worlds.”

Hosted by Loughborough University in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, the gathering drew leading figures including former UK head of high performance sport Peter Keen, now director of sport development at Loughborough, and former England Cricket supremo Ed Smith.

Delegates discussed how sport could take advantage of technology… “What is unique about our current approach is that we are exploring the future with a very specific case study of sport,” explained Ben Shields, MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer.

“Sport has been a driver of innovation for many technologies in the past, be it radio, television, mobile phones or social media. Sport is very likely to be a leading innovation driver for moving the metaverse forward,” he added.

Delegates discussed how the metaverse could be used to engage sports fans in new ways, such as replicating experiences from the athletes’ point of view.

Augmented reality (AR) technology has already been used by Olympic Broadcasting Services during its coverage of the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“We discussed the sport and the metaverse at length,” Loughborough University vice-chancellor Nick Jennings said.

“It is also an important step in our long-term strategy as we engage with our international colleagues at MIT to form a strong foundation to co-create, address, and define areas of future opportunity.

“Those perspectives from both sides of the Atlantic are really interesting as we meet with the real leaders in this area to see what themes are emerging and what is the art of the possible,” he concluded.

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