Augmented Reality at Chicago’s United Center Powers the 5G Connected Fan Experience

Sports fans visiting the United Center in Chicago will soon be able to take video and photo selfies with augmented reality (AR) versions of players and mascots. This “Pose with the Pros” experience results from a partnership between AT&T and two teams: the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Bulls. 

At the arena, two six-foot AT&T 5G-powered kiosks controlled by users’ smartphones will enable the interactive experience. Users can select the players and mascots that will join them on the screen of their device for the selfie. 

“We’re thrilled to bring these experiences to more leagues and to give fans across sports the chance to connect with their favorite teams and players in a more meaningful way,” Sabina Ahmed, assistant vice president of sponsorships and experiential marketing at AT&T, said in a press release. “Pose with the Pros is a true example of 5G at work, and we have more in store for the fans of these legendary teams.” 

Delivering Custom Experiences 

A similar experience will soon be offered through the teams’ mobile apps. There, too, fans will be able to Pose with the Pros. The apps will also deliver an enhanced version of the AT&T StatsZone, which uses 5G and AR technology to show player and team stats in an immersive 3D way, with animated images superimposed on what is seen through the camera on the user’s smartphone. 

“Our network is packed with speed and capacity to deliver these custom experiences to a stadium near you and to the screen in your pocket,” Jay Cary, vice president of 5G product and innovation at AT&T, said in the press release. “It’s all about creating new, immersive ways to connect you to the teams and players you love while making it all look seamless to you.” 

Pose with the Pros is to make its debut at a Bulls game on Tuesday (Dec. 14), at a Blackhawks game on Wednesday (Dec. 15), on the Blackhawks app on Dec. 20 and on the Bulls app on Dec. 22. The new version of AT&T StatsZone is to launch on the teams’ apps beginning in January 2022. 

This application of 5G and AR at the shared National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) arena joins other immersive experiences being created for companies in other industries. 

Making eCommerce More Engaging 

For example, AR is being used by automakers to give potential customers a chance to explore their vehicles as if they were in a showroom and experience the car in motion as if they were on the road. 

Read more: Automakers Use Augmented Reality to Engage Car Shoppers, Sales Staff 

One automaker, Volkswagen, announced on Nov. 29 that it will be advertising a new vehicle on one million Amazon shipping boxes that will include a QR code that, when scanned, will take the user to a virtual driving experience on a 3D map. 

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Neha Singh, CEO at experiential shopping software Obsess, said she believes AR and virtual reality (VR) are the keys to making eCommerce more engaging by providing, for example, a virtual store. “A lot more people can experience this, even if they can’t be there in person,” she said. “It just basically increases the audience for retail stores.” 

Read more: Augmented Reality Software Puts Metaverse Within Reach for Smaller Brands