Getting to the Australian Open isn’t exactly possible for most people in Australia amidst COVID life, but a technology initiative might just get you closer.
Life has changed thanks to the coronavirus, but if you’re keen to see the tennis in Melbourne, there might be a way to show your face at the event without making the trip to Victoria.
It’s a bit of a cheat and a lot of a stunt, but the two have come together to let you show your face in a virtual way, delivering your image on a walking screen of sorts.
Mastercard has worked on the idea, which basically has you recording a video as a tennis fan on Instagram, and having it possibly appear on a screen attached to the head of a human in a costume roaming the Australian Open (AO) at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. The idea sounds crazy, but it’s one way to get your face seen at the event, and it’s just one part of what the “Virtual Fan” experience aims to deliver.
While the appearance of your face is one part, the virtual fan concept also has livestreams running during the Australian Open, capturing videos from the training sessions with the athletes, some of which might even be in 360 degrees to help make that experience a little more realistic, complete with matches streamed in 360, as well.
We’re told the site built for the event will provide past videos for fans on YouTube to look at, as well interviews with the athletes, some of which embrace technology in a big way.
“Virtual Fan combines my two big passions – tennis and technology – to connect fans with the AO, no matter where they are. What’s more, they take people at home behind the scenes at the tournament,” said Naomi Osaka, a world-ranked player at the Australian Open.
“For example, this Wednesday they’ll be joining me on the training courts for a pre-match practice session to see how I get ready for game day – which isn’t something you’d see every day!”
The experience is one that finishes alongside the Australian Open itself, which is set to end on February 21, accessible through Mastercard’s Virtual Fan site.