Watching television coverage of the Olympic Games has always been the only alternative for those who are not able to attend the games in person. But now, there’s an even better option. NBC Olympics has announced that they will broadcast the 2016 Olympic Games in virtual reality. Due to a partnership between the Olympic Games and Samsung, this will be available exclusively to owners of the Samsung Gear VR.
The broadcast will be one day behind the actual events, and will provide 85 hours of coverage. The events that will be covered will include men’s basketball, boxing, track and field, fencing and gymnastics. The opening and closing ceremonies will also be a part of the broadcast. In order to enjoy these events, you will need four things: a Gear VR headset, A Gear VR-compatible Samsung smartphone, the NBC Sports app and a subscription to service through a TV provider.
The Gear VR is not a standalone virtual reality headset. It is a device that holds a compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphone, such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, which is the brain behind the VR experience. Content is shown on the smartphone’s display, after being split into a left and right view to create a stereoscopic 3D image that is viewed through curved lenses inside the headset, creating depth. As the viewer consumes content, the smartphone detects the movement of their head and adjusts the on-screen image accordingly. Unlike competitors such as Google Cardboard, the Gear VR has its own sensors built in, which work in conjunction with the smartphone to improve the accuracy of the head-tracking. The Gear VR also features binaural audio, which means that the sound the viewer hears in each ear while wearing the headset will vary based on the direction in which they are looking. The combination of these features creates a breathtakingly life-like experience. In the words of NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel, “Olympic fans can be transported to iconic venues such as Maracana Stadium for an unprecedented view of the Opening Ceremony, and Copacabana Beach for an immersive beach volleyball experience in the sport’s ultimate setting.” In the past, those unable to attend the Olympic Games have only had the option to watch them on television from home, but thanks to the Gear VR, Olympic fans are now able to view the events as if they were actually there. It may not quite match the thrill of attending the Olympic Games in person, but if you can’t get to Rio this summer, this is the next best thing.