Virtual Training Ground: Fans meet their Barcelona heroes

Barcelona FC
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Barcelona FC fans get once in a lifetime chance to train with Barca superstars but are tricked into believing the real players are avatars in Betfair's Virtual Reality stunt...

"When the trick was finally revealed to the unsuspecting fans they were gobsmacked and couldn’t believe what they were really seeing, the Barcelona superstars in the very flesh."

Fans meet virtual versions of Barcelona superstars

Betfair brought FC Barcelona and their biggest fans closer together than ever before, by giving a group of fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the test dummies in a brand new state-of-the-art virtual reality experience - except what the fans didn't realise is that it was all a ruse.

Barça are at the forefront of cutting-edge immersive technologies when it comes to training their players, as are Betfair with their innovative products within the gambling industry, therefore, it was only natural that the two teamed up to revolutionise training using virtual reality.

The concept was simple - imagine if Barca's players could train for upcoming matches by practising against virtual versions of the opposition, mapped and tracked into the real world. The fans were told that this technology was in development and a long way off being ready for testing on the players. As such, Betfair were giving the fans early access to this technology, to help iron out the bugs in the virtual playing experience.

VR becomes reality

The fans were told that they would be playing against virtual versions of Barca's superstar players when testing the Virtual Training Ground VR headsets. In reality, they actually played against the Barca superstars in the flesh, without even realising it.

The fans were coached through the experience by a 'sports scientist', part of the Barcelona Coaching Team, who was on hand to convince the fans of the ruse, while body doubles for the players stepped in, as a team of experts pretended to projection-map the players onto their bodies.

When the fans were not wearing the headset, they saw the motion-capture body doubles. When they were wearing it, they saw the professional footballing superstars, but were so convinced of the new technology they believed what they were seeing were incredibly life-like virtual versions of their heroes.

When the trick was finally revealed to the unsuspecting fans they were gobsmacked and couldn't believe what they were really seeing, the Barcelona superstars in the very flesh.

"I couldn't believe it, mind-blowing! I never thought I'd get to meet the players, never mind get to practice my passing with them." One lucky fan said.

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