Over the past decade, serious baseball junkies have been cobbling together multiple apps and platforms to immerse themselves more deeply in the experience of watching live games, toggling between TV, laptops, and mobile devices to see box scores alongside pitch location and ball velocity. Now Major League Baseball has integrated all of this data into a single platform by enhancing its popular 10-year-old At Bat app with virtual-reality capabilities.
In addition to layering statistics over high-definition video of the game’s action, the app offers a catcher’s-view perspective that allows the fan to track each pitch as it approaches and passes through a 3D strike zone, showing the hot and cold spots for every batter, courtesy of MLB’s Statcast tracking data. MLB worked with TV manufacturers to determine the optimal curve of At Bat’s internal video screen so viewers can feel as close as possible to the action without getting woozy.
Currently available only on the Google Daydream system, the app is aimed at viewers who want the most immersive fan experience available, says Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of games and VR, Jamie Leece, including parents who want to catch a game after the kids go to bed, people who live far away from the closest major league ballpark, and cord cutters. “This is an opportunity for them to have that living-room setup without having to invest in television,” Leece says.
MLB is an honorable mention in the 2018 Innovation By Design Awards. Check out all the honorees here.