Oculus VR is well-known for in the Virtual Reality industry. The San Francisco Bay Area-based company has already made a huge impact thanks to the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality display headset that is still in development. Even Facebook has taken note, acquiring the company for $2 billion back in March 2014. Now, the Oculus Rift is making its way into the sports industry.
ESPN has hosted the “Zippy Z” Hackathon annually for five years now, but this is its first year incorporating wearable technology. During the Fifth-Annual Hackathon in 2014, top ESPN employees (developers, designers, engineers, and more) divided into thirteen teams to create products for ESPN Digital.
The teams had almost 100 ideas to choose from based on submissions from their peers. They were required to create working prototypes of their products in twenty-four hours, then present their finished work in three minutes or less. The judging panel consisted of ESPN’s senior leading staff.
Many of the teams focused on mobile apps, but at least one was able to incorporate the Oculus Rift into their product. Brian Jackson, Director of DevOps and QA Automation, was on ESPNVR, a team that used virtual reality technology. “We’re using virtual reality headsets to create an in-home immersive experience that is an attempt to replicate the experience at [sports stadiums],” Jackson said of his team.
Though Jackson’s group did not win the contest, the use of the Oculus Rift shows ESPN’s interest in virtual reality. The sports media corporation, headquartered in Bristol, Connecticut, has created content for other wearables as well, such as an ESPN app for the Pebble smartwatch.