Thailand’s footie fans can step onto the pitch and into the action when Manchester United and Liverpool FC clash next week at Rajamangala Stadium – if they’ve got the right gear.
Billed as football’s first VR live stream experienced through multiple 360-degree cameras, The Match can be watched through an interactive live stream featuring five 360-degree, VR cameras when it kicks off at 8pm on Tuesday at Rajamangala National Stadium,
The stream is only available to subscribers of telecom provider AIS, which recruited a dedicated VR evangelist who’s lived in Thailand 20 years to pull it off.
“This gives the viewer a unique perspective that they can’t get anywhere else, and it gives them a seat on the field where nobody else can be,” Al Caudullo, the founder of Bangkok’s Explore Immersive Studios, told Coconuts. “You’re getting a better view than the 25,000-baht seats because you’re closer to the field.”
Caudullo said the 8K, 360-degree cameras will be positioned around the field at the opposing goals and midfield on opposing sides. Viewers will have multiple feeds to tune into: one jumping from camera to camera to follow the action, and others with fixed views.
The cameras are Kandao Qoocam 8K Enterprise 360 cameras, which are 10-bit and therefore render up to 1 billion colors. Caudullo said it “delivers the highest quality that is available today.”
At about USD2,000 per unit, they are also expensive. During the match, a minder will stand by each to block any errant balls.
One last thing to note about the cameras: They will not move, as that can turn any VR headset into a vomit sponge.
So how to tune in? The barrier to entry is a bit steep. Viewers must be AIS subscribers with compatible 5G phones who have downloaded the AIS 5G VR app (iOS/Droid). The action can be watched in either a Pico VR headset, a version of which AIS sells for a mere THB14,500 (US$400), a 5G phone, or with any kind of phone face-hugger – though this is pretty ugly and hardly worth the trouble.