There will soon be one more reason to check your smartphone between pitches at Minnesota Twins games.
The Twins are introducing an app called ARound that will depict promotions and games to smartphone users at Target Field. The effort is believed to be the first use of augmented reality at a live sports venue.
Major League Baseball teams, including the Twins, have been upping the promotions and experiences in recent years as they face dwindling attention spans for the average three-hour games.
"We know the die-hard fans are buying their tickets and we know they're bringing younger fans with them that are not necessarily following every pitch, every stat," said Chris Iles, senior director of brand experience and innovation for the Twins.
"This is one of the latest iterations that we're using to really attract that younger, more diverse fan and bring them into baseball," he said.
Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality users experience a real-world environment with generated perceptual information overlaid on top of it.
ARound, part of the New York-based Stagwell digital marketing company, uses 3-D spatial computing to localize content to individual users throughout the venue, enabling Target Field attendees to see the same real-time 3-D effects and participate in shared experiences.
Using the ARound app, fans point their smartphone at the field to open up a universe of multi-user augmented reality games such as BatterUp, Blockbuster, and Fishing Frenzy — all designed to be played by interfacing with the physical ballpark and fans in real time.
The Twins aren't initially paying for the app. Both the Twins and ARound see potential for sponsorship and add-on opportunities to generate revenue.
"People are coming to the ballpark to feel closer to the game, to other fans, to the players, and what we're doing is removing all the barriers where people can interact with fellow fans, with the produced experiences by the Twins, see the player become larger than life, see relevant statistics," said Josh Beatty, founder and chief executive of ARound.
Initially, the app will be more geared to the casual fan. Future versions will be aimed at avid baseball enthusiasts.
Iles said what really intrigued him about the ARound app is that it creates a shared experience.
"It's the potential for all 30,000 fans in the stadium to participate in the same shared experience that's contextual to where they are sitting within the facility," he said.