In the age when new technologies are transforming the media industry and entertainment, is XR the future of (sport) broadcasting? And how will that change the experience for sport-fans, media managers, but also athletes? How can new forms of entertainment be produced for the large public that could not be imagined before without XR?
TechvangArt witnessed the first Air Race X – where top world’s pilots competed in digital rounds- and saw the potential for a new era in entertainment. The real-life racing had a digital add-on, and presented in a new-format of phygital AR event. The core technology that made possible the experience was the STYLY App.
The event heralds a game-changing era for all ecosystem players: fans, media managers, pilots.
* For the public the experience was amazing as fans could witness the Air Race, in the middle of the crowded city – something that would not be possible in ‘real-life’.
* For media managers, broadcasting through AR tech offers new opportunities of sport content presentation (and monetisation) that can’t be ignored anymore.
* As for the pilots, the digital and real flights were different experiences, “flying digitally”, seems to need a new type of trainings and sport tactics to be learned. But appetite for XR competitions was definitely opened, as there are plans and dreams to held such events in other cities too.
And the World’s First Air Race X Champion is… We will reveal it soon! 🙂
When it comes to broadcasting, sports industries have been stagnant in incorporating new tech. Firstly, sports broadcasting holds a unique position in TV as being between the last genres that consumers choose to view in real-time, one of the most attractive aspects of sports to broadcasters is that it is consumed as it happens. And the real-time consumption of sports broadcasting has been very successful also due to the loyalty of sports consumers.
However, even with a loyal audience of sports fans, there are concerns among some broadcasters related to an ever-increasing number of potential sports viewing modalities that include new technologies: computers, tablets, smartphones, and in the future new types of hardware such as AR or VR headsets. In addition, a growing number request customizable events, and more fan interactions.
Last, but not least, media is changing, due to AI, XR, blockchain, etc, and rather sooner, than later, new-tech will impact also sports media managers. It will be important for them to understand how to attract and retain an audience, especially in the face of rapid technological advancements, improved broadcast capability, and new-tech
??? So, the question is: can we combine sports broadcasting, events, and entertainment with the use of new technologies, such as XR? And as such, can we enjoy sport entertainment in new spaces, such as in the city in crowded places?
Actually, the answer is YES. And for the first time, this possibility was proved: The best air race pilots competed in digital rounds, and viewers could watch the show in one of the most crowded places in the world – Shibuya Crossing. It was the world’s first Air Racing Event for the world’s top pilots since the previous Air Race four years ago.
Expanding events, including sports events, in the digital and virtual world, or simply put, going into the direction of PHYGITAL EVENTS – understood as physical events with digital/virtual add-ons, chosen to create a more immersive or/and interactive experience for attendees – seems to be the future. In the case of Air Race X, pilots were flying in real-life but according to a pre-established virtual tour, their data were tracked, kept secret and presented live in AR formats at the final event. Is the digital add-on different that a ‘simple real fly’? As we will see, all pilots said: yes, it is different! As for the audience, it is definitely a completely different experience to watch the Air Race in the middle of the city!
STYLY XR organized a media tour for XR journalists to show aspects of this complex picture, where TechvangArt had the opportunity to look behind the scenes of each industry and the value provided by mixing and joining forces together. We have to admit: previous to that, we were quite naïve about Air Racing 🙂
One of the bests world four pilots competed in the final Digital rounds, and four of them made it to the final Race: Yoshihide Muroya (Japan), Matt Hall (Australia), Martin Sonka (Czech Republic), and Juan Velarde (Spain).
The rounds were presented in different AR formats, both as demo and the actual live XR competition: outside and inside, both with headsets and through phones/tablets and a diorama format type; all with the STYLY App installed.
One of the most Immersive Format was outside with the headsets, as it resembled the feeling of a viewer that would watch it outside, users could really see the demo-racing in the sky, but this time in the middle of the city.
The presentation with a diorama through phones and tablets, offered also an interesting perspective: the region was mapped and you could have a full overview of the demo-racing to understand how pilots fly.
However, the maximum excitement of the evening was definitely the final digital race, where the public could watch live through AR (with headsets, phones or tablets) each round of race through Shibuya. The 3D sound production added to the immersivness of the experience as the viewers could really hear loud and clear the sound of the aircraft as it was flying. In the same time, sports commentators provided a real-time commentary of a game, that raised the excitement and adrenaline of the whole event!
Sponsors of the event hopefully were happy too, as in the digital layer companies could have their ads and logo, up in the AR layer, which offers a lot of hope for sustainability/profitability for the event organisers.
All these physical and digital ingredients – AR technology, 3D sounds, sport commentators, the presence of the pilots and technical teams that commented on the competitions and gave insights – created a new sensation and added the feeling of a competitions happening live as participant watched for the first time the pilots racing, to eagerly see who WILLL BE the winner!
In the Digital Rounds, the competition data was generated, by collecting and analysing ultra-high-precision flight data from pilots flying in various locations around the world. Data about the weather was also included, and all this data is then uploaded online. The competition data was turned into a visual representation using augmented reality (AR) technology. STYLY, a real metaverse platform makes possible Innovative public viewing that transcends time and space.
There are differences between ‘digital’ and ‘real‘ flights, and all pilots felt this aspect. The track of the digital round was made and given to the pilots – the track is made to fit the city space where the AR show will be, in this case, Shibuya.
The virtual tracks are set they are exactly the same at each location. However, weather conditions (temperature, humidity, altitude, etc) will be different from each location, and as the nearby airport reports the weather every hour, those data also are grabbed and introduced into the system. In the digital track, pilots had to go through virtual gates or avoid pylons. If a mistake is made – for example, the pilots fly too high or low, the computer gives a penalty to the pilots.
The flight data used for the competition is recorded during the qualifying period, but the results are kept secret until the day of the competition.
Pilots considered that the virtual tour track made a difference. Matt Hall (Australia) acknowledged that it was a learning experience to fly through the virtual track and not get penalties from the program. Juan Velarde (Spain) pointed out that besides the flight tactics applied in real competitions such as how to manage speed and other risks, in the virtual flight, pilots had to learn how to avoid penalties from the program. However, all pilots were excited about this first digital experience!
And the winner is….
Before announcing the winner, we have to say that times were very close, which shows how competitive everyone was. In the semifinals, Sonka won against Hall and Muroya defeated Velarde. In the final, Muroya and Sonka competed, both flew without penalties, but one was better. All competitions have a winner…
And the winner of the World’s First Digital Air Race X is…..
Yoshihide Muroya from Japan!
“We were able to hold an air race with everyone's help, and we want to make "AIR RACE X" even more exciting and hold a real air race in front of tens of thousands of spectators. Starting with this event, we are considering holding "AIR RACE X" in various places around the world", said Yoshihide Muroya, after the Award event.
A spectacular view to watch how pilots are racing or doing acrobatics in the air, but Air Race is not the easiest sport and definitely not the cheapest one. We got the amazing chance to take a glimpse at one of the best Air Racer trains and the challenges faced, but also ask about the difference between a ‘real’ vs ‘digital’ Air Race.
In Fukushima, we visited SkyPark, the base where one of the top world pilots, Yoshihide Muroya trains, in the middle of an amazing nature with pure air. At the entrance of the space, definitely, you could see the team is proud of Yoshihide Muroya‘s achievements. A wall full of trophies and medals to honor his achievements as the best air race pilot in the world.
One of most interesting trophy is the one that was given as a gift by the mayor of Fukushima when he won the world championship and it is made from traditional, local Fukushima ceramics, painted with the airplane picture.
Yoshihide Muroya started to fly at the age of 18, joining an aviation club while he was at the university (he graduated from Chuo University Suginami High School). At the age of 20, he moved to the United States to obtain an airplane license. After he started to do both race and aerobatics training. He had to borrow money from friends and family to buy his first plane, but after sponsors started to appear. He was selected to represent Japan at the Advanced Class World Championship, and he started air-show activities in Japan. And the results of hard work appeared and soon he was recognized as a world-class top pilot.
We watched a practice flight at the SkyPark Fukushima, an amazing performance from the pilot, and just wondered what motivated him to work hard for such an outstanding performance.
Meeting a world champion always makes anyone wonder: how it is possible to be number 1 in the world? What is really the secret ingredient about it? The career of Yoshihide Muroya is a truly impressive career, but he seems modest and always underlines the need for consistency and continuous training, so it was truly an honour to find out more about this amazing sport.
Definitely, Air Race is not the cheapest sport. If you think naively, that all you need is to train hard and buy an airplane, most probably you are just as naïve as we were.
The cockpit has to be adapted to each pilot, so it fits the pilot perfectly perfectly, explains Yoshihide Muroya. The wings are not allowed to change. We can just imagine the cost that it takes to construct each airplane in a very personalized way. Not to mention that besides the official airplanes used in the competition, pilots need to train, and for that, there are also other airplanes used.
Obviously, organizing competitions has its costs. So, can it be that digital race is a solution? Actually, it might! If it can lower the cost of event organizers – as pilots and teams don’t have to fly in from all over the world; and add an ‘extra twist’ in the value chain: an air race competition could never be held in a city environment. But, thanks to XR solutions, fans would be able to see and experience an amazing show in crowded city spaces. And in the future, once the technology evolves, most probably, XR broadcasting will be more and more spectacular and more sustainable!
TVA: How is the daily life of a pilot?
Trainings are hard and preferably have to be done daily. Pilots need to be physically fit and do their daily morning routine exercises. And after, Yoshi comes to the airport and has 2-3 flights, one training flight lasts approximately 15-20 minutes. This is in case the weather permits the flight, if it rainy, the flights have to be postponed. The airplane records the flight and these have to be checked by the pilot, explained Yoshihide Muroya in order to adjust the performance.
TVA: Are you afraid when you are up…in the race?
Yoshihide Muroya: Yes and no! You better be afraid! You have to understand that there is always a risk in the air, but all the risks can be controlled. Pilots are trained to do things in a safe manner. If you don’t feel safe to do the race, the pilot will not do the race.
TVA: What makes the difference between champions and… “the rest”?
Yoshihide Muroya: To be a world champion, you have to be very consistent in all the races. Sometimes you can get lucky, but in general, you have to have consistency. Airflight has to be fast, because otherwise technically it cannot win. It is very easy to make mistakes when it comes to the final, mentally you have to control it.
TVA: The key to being a world champion?
Yoshihide Muroya: Pilots are competing in the same conditions, and the same regulations (…) Of course, the plane has to be strong, and pilots have to be physically strong. A factor that decides it is maybe… the mental training of the pilot…. At least this is how I think, but I don’t know…
AIR RACE X is 5 Dimensional Motorsports that Transcends Time and Space.
The world’s most skilled pilots compete against each other in the “F1 of the skies” where they use all their physical and mental strength to achieve the fastest times at speeds of up to 370km/h and maximum gravity acceleration of 12G. AIR RACE X is back, a “5-dimensional motorsport that transcends time and space”.
AIR RACE X: Race Format is a Core Technology that can bring Racing to Life.
- Aircraft Operation Technology. We have operated in the previous Air Race World Championship and many other aviation events to ensure smooth operations with a high level of safety awareness.
Several of the world’s top pilots participate as core members of safety reviews, allowing the safety of the sport to be audited by experienced pilots. All of the aviation technology and standards are fed back to us, keeping AIR RACE X above the expected global standards.
- Ultra-High Precision Flight Data Measurement TechnologyMeasured flights on the same race courses set up around the world.
The dedicated measuring device records ultra-high-resolution and ultra-high-precision flight data in
excess of 1/1000th of a second.
- Augmented Reality (AR)/XR Technology. High-dimensional AR rendering using ultra-high-precision flight data, a new style of spectating using AR technology as a key technology for the DIGITAL ROUND.
Official site: https://www.airracex.com/
STYLY is a real metaverse platform that enables the creation and distribution of XR content linked to urban spaces, and has facilitated many creator training and location-based projects.
STYLY is equipped with 3D data from cities around the world, which can be used to create and distribute content linked to real space. Furthermore, STYLY is compatible with multiple devices, allowing users to experience AR content on a variety of devices, including smartphones, AR/MR glasses, web browsers, and VRHMDs.
We will continue to collaborate with creators and cities around the world to promote the “Real Metaverse” that augments the real world with technology and create an “era of wearing space” where XR/Real Metaverse is used in our lifestyles.
STYLY Official Site: https://styly.cc/
The XR core technology of AIR RACE X is STYLY. We are working together in the area of technology
“Photo credit: Courtesy of Air Race X”
“All photographs and photo are subject to copyright and intended solely for press utilization, exclusively for news reporting or editorial coverage.
Photo and video accompanying the article is produced by and retains copyright from:
“︎ Suguru Saito/AIR RACE X” ©
“︎ So Hasegawa/AIR RACE X” ©
“︎ Hiroki Terabayashi/AIR RACE X” ©