Congratulations to 19-time major champion Rafael Nadal and 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu on their US Open singles titles.
Over the course of the three weeks in NYC, fans were treated to the highest level of tennis action. While Nadal represents the “Big 3” era and women’s finalist Serena Williams represents the “Serena” era, it is safe to say we are watching the latter stages of they and their contemporaries legendary careers.
There is new blood on the ATP (men’s) and WTA (women’s) tours. Andreescu and men’s finalist Daniil Medvedev are the future and part of that new wave of tennis. The dominance and excellence of players like Williams, Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams has given rise to this next generation.
As we move deeper into the new millennium and the boundaries on what is possible continues to expand, sports will be one of the primary vehicles we see this expansion. From advanced analytics and real-time player vitals to virtual and augmented reality. The way players and the people intimately involved in the action is changing and so to is the way fans can interact and consume said action.
During the US Open tournament, Mercedes-Benz USA introduced an augmented reality experience featuring 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Fans on hand at the USTA National Tennis Center got to try their hand at a virtual lesson from the tennis pro as she competes in real time.
Bringing fans closer to the action isn’t new. But in this social media era, with multiple screens and a crowded space for mindshare, sports leagues and their partners need to be creative in how they compete for attention.
Mercedes-Benz developed a new kind of AR technology experience by capturing the movements and play style of Stephens and translated the footage into AR features, with no mobile device target or facial recognition software needed.
To begin the game a fan could say: “Hey Mercedes, teach me to play like Sloane,” and she then appears in the game on the screen. Fans play with an untethered racquet and receive a one-on-one tennis lesson. It’s the same voice response technology found in current models of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
The car maker plans to take its AR show on the road to the NFL. The Mercedes-Benz’ AR activation will travel to Atlanta, and will be available during the first Atlanta Falcons home game of the season featuring Falcons quarterback and brand ambassador, Matt Ryan.