News: AT&T and NBA Launch Mobile AR Experience via Chicago Bulls App

AT&T and NBA Launch Mobile AR Experience via Chicago Bulls App

The Chicago Bulls may not be very relevant in the current NBA standings, but they do lead the league in one other area.

With an assist from Nexus Studios, AT&T has debuted StatsZone, an augmented reality experience that presents game statistics in an immersive format, in the Chicago Bulls app.

Leveraging ARKit from Apple and ARCore from Google for horizontal plane detection, StatZone anchors a tabletop-sized virtual basketball court with customizable dashboards, shot charts, and animations that help visualize the numbers behind the game.

Image by AT&T/YouTube

While fans can review game stats over the past five years, the real treat comes during live games, where StatZone presents stats in real-time and celebratory animations. Potential future features include connecting StatZone to their fantasy basketball teams.

"With the United Center not currently hosting fans, we've been focused on building at-home experiences around gamedays, and StatsZone is a really innovative use of AR technology to bring our fans closer to the action and provide them with cool personalized content around the players and stats that they care most about," said Dan Moriarty, senior director of digital for the Chicago Bulls, in a statement.

Image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

The experience is available today via the Chicago Bulls app for iOS and Android. Despite the tie-in with AT&T and its 5G services, the app also works with other carriers over 4G networks or Wi-Fi.

The idea of presenting stats in a graphical AR format was first floated by the NBA app for Magic Leap, though the experience in Magic Leap is much more immersive.

Image by AT&T/YouTube

"AT&T StatsZone is an exciting new product that enhances the live game by giving fans access to real-time stats that personally interest them," said Luke Ritchie, head of interactive arts & XR at Nexus Studios. "It's great to continue pushing the potential of new technologies with visionary partners like AT&T to bring cutting-edge experiences to the fans."

Based on the language of the rollout, AT&T's interest in introducing StatZone with the Chicago Bulls is meant to demonstrate its 5G network capabilities. Increasingly, robust AR experiences have been a favored way across the wireless and mobile industries (see also: Verizon and Super Bowl LV and The Mandalorian AR app) to make the case for 5G. After bringing 5G networks to Chicago's United Center for the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend, the Bulls are the logical team to launch this particular experience.

Image by AT&T/YouTube

There are examples of AR adoption across the sports world, but the NBA and its teams appear more apt to experiment with AR early and often. In addition to the aforementioned Magic Leap app, the NBA was the first out of the gate with an ARKit app in NBA AR. The league also leveraged the image recognition capabilities of Snapchat for fans attending the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors. Additionally, the Sacramento Kings unveiled their new uniforms via an AR experience, while the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks have integrated AR into broadcasts and marketing, respectively.

The latest AR example appeals to fans with a hunger for the X's and O's of the game. If you fit this description, you'll want to keep an eye on whether your team has a network relationship with AT&T.

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Cover image via AT&T

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