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Playing basketball in augmented reality

October 2019

Focus and play: the approach to the next generation of games is really this simple. Augmented reality (AR) captures your surroundings with your phone’s camera and adds graphics that digitally change your surrounding environment. Just wait for the app to scan the room and your smartphone will display an alternative version of reality. Since 2016, when Nintendo brought Pokemon to smartphones and Snapchat made a name for itself with its face-changing filters, AR has been in everyone’s pocket. Its potential is still being explored, but sport is certainly finding a new lease of life thanks to augmented reality. 

NBA AR: the official app

The ideal environment is a large, bright space, perhaps also outside. Open-space offices are perfect, if you’re looking for a break with your colleagues. The set-up is simple: just launch the app, choose your team and focus on the area with your smartphone camera. You will then see a transformation on your screen: the floor is covered in parquet panels, while dividing lines mark out the three-second area, the free throw lines, the backboard and the basket. When the game begins, you have thirty seconds to score the highest number of points: a ball appears on your phone and – by quickly moving your finger – you can aim and shoot for two or three points, depending on the actual distance from the basket; another ball appears after each shot until time has run out. Remember to turn on the sound so you can hear the crowd cheering each basket! The app is available for free for iOS.


Cleveland vs. Sacramento, a competition with apps

Other official apps linked to the world of the NBA have been created as projects within certain basketball clubs. The first one was Deep in The Q, an app created by the Cleveland Cavaliers in collaboration with Bud Light, available for free at the App Store and Google Play. Here again, the challenge is to score virtual baskets in order to collect all the trophies up for grabs. The second app is SacramentoKings+Golden1Center, available for free for Android and for iOS, created by the Sacramento Kings in collaboration with Nike. This app collects all the useful official information for the team’s fans, including the option of personalising the uniform and taking a photo with players thanks to augmented reality.


AR Sports Basketball

When space is limited at your desk, just change perspective! AR Sports Basketball lets you create miniature courts, positioning a small basket next to your pen-holder while altering it to the right size. Let your imagination run wild: you don’t have to be tied down by physical limitations, the digital world can adapt creatively to your surroundings. Imagination and fun are a key part of this app which turns the basketball into a blazing ball if you do really well. You can pass the time shooting a few hoops between a pint and a bag of crisps as you wait for some friends in the pub. AR Sports Basketball is available for free for iOS.



Print the basket and play

The first generation of AR worked with “markers”, i.e. symbols printed on paper that were recognised by the device’s camera. You can still find apps in digital shops that require you to download models which activate augmented reality. One of these is ARBasketball: you connect to the site, download the file and print the black and white marker. Just position the sheet on your desk and focus on it with your camera to display the small digital basket on your screen. Even though the process is not so instant, the markers are still more accurate. What’s more, the possibility of becoming virtual basketball players is always fun. You can download the game for free from the App Store.