By Brian Heuberger
The Olympics provides the world with a valuable opportunity to unite, celebrate the achievements of the athletes and enjoy the inspirational reminder that every human has the potential to reach greatness at their crafts.
Last week, Comcast NBC Universal hosted an event at Denver’s Mile High United Way venue to commemorate the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. More than 400 guests attended the event to celebrate the athletic prowess of the Olympic Games and to experience the technological innovation of the Comcast virtual reality headsets.
The 2016 Rio Olympics
The event provided numerous features to celebrate the spirit of the Olympics. The large ballroom areas offered several fun activities including:
- Ping pong tables
- Electronic basketball games
- Foosball tables
- Mini golf platforms
Although this provided entertainment for the guests and their families, the actual Olympic competitions were also on full display.
The walls in each room were covered with massive screens, the competitions in Rio were live-streaming on the screens and most of the rooms showed a different Olympic competition. As a result, while socializing and enjoying the festivities, guests were also able to watch their favorite events and root for Team USA on the many screens.
The Brazilian Culture
Comcast NBC Universal also celebrated the 2016 Olympic Games by having a Brazilian theme permeate throughout the event. The event featured Brazilian food, beverages, art and music.
Brazilian dancers also helped reflect the Rio environment. For instance, male capoeira dancers and female bella diva dancers circulated around the venue to showcase their remarkable skills and to demonstrate the impressive Brazilian styles of dance.
Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets
The VR headsets room was another highlight of the Denver Olympics event. Comcast partnered with Samsung, utilizing their innovative VR headsets that provide people with the impression that they are actually in Rio while enjoying the gorgeous scenery in the city or watching the athletic competitions from the stands.
Most of the 400 guests made sure to check out the VR headsets, and it would be hard to find a guest who was not thoroughly amazed by the technology of the headsets.
“The response we got was really awesome,” says Heather Taziri, the Comcast Denver events specialist.
“The virtual reality headset was a huge draw and everybody loved it. We had somebody who got up and danced with the samba dancers in the virtual reality. We had people laughing and everybody had a great time with it,” she says.
Many features of the VR headsets distinguish the technology from standard IMAX or 3D glasses. With a screen built into the headsets, strapping on the VR goggles seems to immediately transport you into Rio and position you beside the Olympic athletes.
Certain features of the VR headsets provide the exciting impression that you are present at the Olympics. The 360-degree panoramic view, the real footage of the action and the up-close 3D screen combine to generate an extraordinary effect.
While staring straight ahead might provide you with a certain view of Rio, turning your head to the right or left suddenly expands the view as more sights in the area enter the screen. As a result, wearing the VR headsets provides the realistic and convincing impression that you are a tourist in Rio turning your head around to survey all of the beautiful sights and scenes around you.
The VR Footage
The technological achievement of the VR headsets definitely deserves a gold medal. Creating the VR footage requires an abundance of different camera shots and then intensive editing to piece all of those shots together.
“The use of virtual reality cameras is really up-and-coming,” explains Taziri. “The camera is a sphere that takes multiple videos at the same time, and the footage can then be stitched together to create the experience as if you are there.”
The VR option for the Olympics is all thanks to the people working on making the technology accessible. “Comcast has worked really hard with all of our virtual reality professionals who are doing the Rio Olympics and making it available to everybody,” she says.
The VR headsets are already available for all Comcast Xfinity customers. Because Comcast compiles and uploads new footage every day, all Xfinity customers can wear the headsets to see the action from the day before in VR.
“The next day we have it available for customers,” says Taziri. “Right now you can get the footage through the NBC Universal app and through your Xfinity on-demand content. You can also easily use your virtual reality headset to download the footage.”
Although this represents a new technology, the trajectory of technological developments indicates that the VR headsets could be the next wave of the future. They could quickly change how we watch sporting events.
Just as 3D capabilities recently entered the mainstream market, so too many tech experts are confident that VR headsets will also become commonplace. For instance, advancements might enable customers to watch many big sporting events in VR, such as annual baseball or football championships.
“I hope that’s the way it’s going,” says Taziri. “For big games or something like the Olympics where you can sit in the stands and watch it happen, it’s a really cool concept.”
The Comcast NBCU Olympics event in Denver commemorated the excitement of the Rio Olympic Games and the innovation of the VR headsets. A joyous atmosphere perpetuated throughout the venue while all of the attendees socialized and relished the many appealing features of the event.
The event provided the guests with a beneficial opportunity to celebrate the Olympic Games, enjoy a taste of the Brazilian culture and experience the VR way in which we all might be watching big games and sports championships in the future.