Is virtual reality live sports viewing the future of basketball? Some of the sport’s superstars think so! Watch this video…

the future of basketball

Imagine a network so fast that you can shoot baskets or catch a football or even drive a car in real life and in real time while wearing a VR headset connected to a camera.

Well, that network is here, and NBA All Stars Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal can tell you all about it. During a demonstration from Verizon and Ericsson at the recent NBA All Star Game in Los Angeles, they wore blacked-out goggles with a headset-mounted camera streaming video over 5G and back to the goggles. The two players shot free throws and launched three-point shots from within their virtual experience in a dramatic demonstration of the high throughput and low latency of 5G.

Catch them in action below:

Davis was so impressed he tweeted about it. 

Which inspired a response from none other than LeBron James. 

How is this possible? It works because 5G networks will be capable of single-digit millisecond latency, which seems like real-time to your brains. To put it in perspective, blinking your eye takes 300 to 400 milliseconds.

“Why did we do this?” said Sanyogita Shamsunder, executive director of Verizon’s 5G ecosystem planning in an interview with Forbes. “It just shows the lay person what we can do with 5G with the bandwidth that we have, low latency and with it being super-fast … When we do have that virtual experience that we’re ready to offer, you can think about a service where you’re sitting in the stadium and looking at the basket from Bradley Beal’s point of view.”

Sports are a prime target for what can be called “mixed reality,” a combination of augmented and virtual reality that can boost everything from analytics to training to the fan experience. (We showed off a mixed reality demo at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona).

We also believe the consumer market will be the first large-scale use case for 5G, driven by a massive rise in data on mobile networks, greater efficiency and business benefits for early adopters, an argument summed up by colleague Peter Linder in a recent post.

But what will people do with all this 5G capabilities? Ericsson ConsumerLab examined that in a recent report, and both “athlete and area view” and “VR cinema” ranked high in interest. But maybe the most inspiring takeaway from that report is that people want 5G to offer “a sense of the unlimited.”

And I think Bradley Beale and Anthony Davis did a good job of giving us a glimpse of that.

Nathan Hegedus
Nathan is editor-in-chief of the Ericsson Blog.
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