NBA launches first U.S. sports league augmented reality app

NBA game

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced the launch of the iOS NBA AR app, an augmented reality experience that allows fans to play virtual pop-a-shot anywhere in the real world. This is the first AR game offered by a U.S. sports league.

The NBA AR app uses the iPhone camera and Apple’s ARKit technology to capture the real world surroundings. An authentic NBA backboard and court are then inserted into the environment, with the player using the iPhone’s accelerometer to flick shots at the hoop before the 30-second shot clock expires.

Shooting sessions can be shared to others through iMessage, email or social media or compared on a global leaderboard.

The NBA AR app also allows players to select their favourite NBA team to decorate the real-world environment with a related theme, as well a receive updates on the team’s upcoming games.

“We’ve always said that basketball can be played virtually anywhere – and today that takes on an expanded meaning,” said Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, NBA senior vice president of digital media in a press statement. “Augmented reality presents a variety of fascinating engagement opportunities, so we hope our fans download the app and try out their skills wherever they might be.”

NBA AR is available on iPhone 6s and later running iOS11 and can be downloaded for free on the App Store.

The NBA says it plans to introduced “additional augmented reality experiences” through the app later this basketball season.

Last week, the NBA announced that fans will also be able to stream over 20 basketball games on Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream virtual reality devices, including one match featuring the Toronto Raptors.