Still basking in the afterglow and national well being brought on by the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we continue our look at how sport and technology serve each other and interact.
As the autumn season gets under way, winter sports come to the fore and the Olympians knuckle down for the long hard road to Rio in 2016, you’d think that live, real sports is the only game in town. But the non-real thing is just as evident.
A good joke that went round from July to September was: ‘I feel really inspired by all this sport – I’m getting a bigger television!’ But that sort of gag didn’t detract in any way from the obvious benefits of competition, healthy and challenging exercise and both individual and team skills.
But that is to leave aside technology and its gift for simulating reality in such a way that it becomes more real than anything else.
Formula 1 in the Living Room
The fan of motor sports is only able to enjoy it when visiting an actual event, while football, cycling or swimming enthusiasts can have a go again and again. So, to bridge the reality gap, a massive video game simulator fits the bill.
The Evotek SYM 026 is a life-size cockpit on suspension so you feel every bump through the tyres with three HD screens ahead showing every global track. You might expect such a giant toy in an amusement arcade, but this one, loaded with F1 data, is sold for domestic use.
Originally designed for training professional racers, it’s a natural evolution for the home market, available for a cool $90,000. Just leaves us to wonder how long before they make a 747 airliner simulator cockpit for the lounge?
Other simulators are on the market to utilise domestic space which build on existing home theatre to add individual sports like racing, cycling and shooting. In fact, any sport can now be simulated, with a selector button. The Multi-Sport Simulator is designed more to the catering/entertainment market.
However, as the boundaries between commercial and domestic blur, the age of the household simulation for sports has truly arrived. Immersive sports allow people to use real playing materials like bats and racquets. The Wii comes of age.
This one, priced between $10,000 to $24,000, is designed to train serious professionals as well as entertain the masses. Sport is no longer all live and actual, just as everything else in technology is probably not actually real.
Virtual Clinic for Real Sports Injuries
One site, Virtual Sports Injury Clinic, allows visitors to click on a human image at the point that it hurts, highlighting the particular sports injury. They say they have information on more than 350 sports injuries with rehabilitation, stretching and strengthening exercises.
They carry a comprehensive anatomy section to identify bones and muscles, treatments and therapies and ‘expert’ interviews. There are some parts of the body more prone to sports damage than others. Armchair critics say it’s because the human body isn’t designed for extreme exercise (abuse).
In other words, it’s self diagnosis and prescribing treatment (but not drugs) from sports injuries. It’s a natural corollary to things like NHS Direct. Virtual healthcare. The fact that it’s confined to sports injuries is surely a matter of progress, which time will alter to encompass all kinds of human illness.
Obviously there comes a point in self treatment when human intervention is essential, for massage, physio and actual operations.
The Virtual Sports Academy offers free online sports and nutrition instruction through videos which can be carried to the field, track, court or gym. They style the service as ‘putting the professionals in your pocket.’
It’s all growing business, this virtual sports stuff. Just as real activity sports are. And that can only be win-win for people’s health and the national economy.
Yahoo, World of Sport, 10 September 2012