These days, Minnesota Twins games at Target Field in Minneapolis boast lots of thrilling action—but you'll need a phone to see it.
We're not talking about home runs and squeeze plays as the team battles for a playoff berth. Who needs stuff like that, when you can watch giant apes and towering sci-fi creatures take over the stadium as ginormous beachballs, dancing geometric shapes and dazzling pyrotechnics turn the place into a wild wonderland?
Those are just some of the app-based augmented reality delights and oddities available at the ballpark via ARound, a Stagwell venture that displays shared digital experiences to users' phones in real-time.
The goal, according to the demo clip below, is keeping fans engaged, as baseball typically provides less than 18 minutes of action per three-hour game. ARound strives to capture lost fan attention, "turning mobile devices from a means of distraction to interaction."
"The internet and AR have been focused primarily on the individual, which is isolating and turns people inward," ARound founder and CEO Josh Beatty tells Muse. "Shared AR enables users to collectively interact and forge deeper connections with the experience at hand."
Which, in theory, amplifies brand loyalty by casting the Twins as a tech-savvy franchise providing value-added fun for all.
There's a stadium overlay, with audio and visual effects celebrating big hits, strikeouts and such. Fans can express their appreciation by hurling virtual squids and hotdogs onto the field. (Um, squids = baseball?) Gamification's in the lineup, too, with a digital home-run-derby-style contest and a multiplayer tower-toppling competition that pit fans in the stands against each other.
This four-minute video hypes such features:
"A key initial learning is that we can actually couple education and entertainment for young fans, helping them follow along with the action and players while increasing engagement, with hopes of turning them into lifelong fans," Beatty says. "We can also deliver broadcast-quality graphics and stats to Twins fanatics."
This marks ARound's first large-scale implementation after a year in development. In some ways, the offering mirrors Aquimo's in-stadium push, but with less emphasis on gaming and prizes and more on team spirit and what's unfolding on the field. Aquimo uses a sponsor model, which Beatty sees as a natural fit for ARound moving forward.
"Sponsored experiences are a clear path for revenue and we have already seen strong interest from brands," he says. "We offer brands a way to not only connect with customers, but to create mass-community engagement in ways that feel ownable to users.
"We see shared AR as a new entertainment platform that has a place in live events as it brings people closer together and into the action," Beatty adds. "The implications are vast for sports teams, entertainment venues and brands considering new ways to engage their audiences with emerging technology."