Working from home has been a lifeline during this pandemic for many people, but the sudden shift in our work/life balance has looked like more of living at work than working from home. When we can’t get away from our work, literally or figuratively, it can cause an imbalance in our daily lives that will eventually lead to burnout. We have more free time in most cases now that we can’t go anywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are able to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle. Exercise is one of the most important parts of living a balanced lifestyle, and with gyms and recreational sports shuttered many places staying active has been particularly difficult. 

Particularly because the pandemic has forced us indoors more than normal, the World Health Organization has recommended daily physical activity to keep us in balance and strong, both mentally and physically.

For many people taking daily walks or going for a run is plenty of a mental break as well as adequate physical exercise. But for those who seek out competition, technology has been a lifeline.

In the early days of lockdown many fitness coaches were live streaming workouts so people could still connect with the sport of their choice. But these mostly lacked the competition folks wanted to be able to feel their time was well spent.

Virtual reality and augmented reality have given folks an opportunity to experience competitive sports virtually from a safe distance. Tennis trainers use real tennis equipment to help people train and improve their technique without the need for a coach. 

Golf simulators give people a chance to practice their swing and play courses across the world and join games in competition with others.

Even virtual reality games like Beat Saber provide exercise with the opportunity to compete for a high score.

The way these technologies work is through biomechanical modeling, motion tracking, and machine learning. The artificial intelligence in these games can learn a player’s moves and respond with increasing difficulty to make a virtual opponent feel more real. 

Equipment for such games has come a long way, too. For VR the headsets are advanced enough you don’t really need controllers for most games because the cameras can see your movements in relation to the room you are in.

For interactive sports, the controller is often a modified piece of realistic sporting equipment, like a golf club or tennis racquet, that is outfitted with sensors that sense a player’s movements.

All of this technology is heading to the next step in extended reality sporting events, which take place in socially distanced pods and allow players to experience realistic gameplay with competitors across town and across the world.

The technological advancements that come from this pandemic are likely to change the way we work, engage in hobbies, and play sports for the foreseeable future. If you have been waiting for your favorite sport to become safe again, extended reality may be able to offer you a solution. Learn more about extended reality sports and the importance of physical activity for your well-being below!