The NBA Finals is underway, and now basketball fans with iPhones and Android devices can get closer to the action for free than they ever could with expensive courtside tickets.
Using ARCore and ARKit, the NBA AR app anchors the portal to the floor in the user's environment. Fans can walk through the door and view pre-game introductions of the NBA Finals opponents, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, or rub virtual elbows with players from the runners-up, the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets.
Finally, the app offers a highlight of Anthony Davis, rising star center of the New Orleans Pelicans, as he throws down a monster dunk, seen from the perspective of a fan in some pretty decent seats.
"360 Portals will bring NBA fans behind the scenes and onto the court, providing a new way to experience the game through augmented reality," said Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, NBA executive vice president of digital media, in a statement. "We hope fans around the world check out the NBA AR app throughout the Finals for a unique perspective on our biggest event of the year."
NBA AR was already one of Next Reality's top 50 AR apps based on its pop-a-shot game. It's fun enough that we're able to look past the blatant self-promotion, which shifts to reminding fans that they can watch the NBA Playoffs through YouTube TV.
The NBA has put a full-court press on augmented reality. In addition to the mobile app, the league has signed on with Magic Leap to publish an app for the Magic Leap One, which NBA legend/professional pitchman Shaquille O'Neal wore during a videotaped announcement of the partnership.
The NBA's broadcast partner, TNT, even used some AR effects to liven up a segment featuring Shaq on a playoff edition of Inside the NBA. Hey, Shaq loves AR!
A pair of courtside tickets cost more than $25,000. The NBA AR app is free. It sounds like a bargain to me. Plus, I'm less likely to have a Larry David moment involving Shaq.