NBA Champs Dallas Mavericks Win With AR Game

The Dallas Mavericks were crowned NBA Champions last night – but the US basketball franchise has also blazed a trail in terms of using branded AR applications. 

Working with mobile device technology company Qualcomm, and setting up a company called Big PlayAR to capitalise on marketing opportunities presented by AR, the Maverickss marketing department set about integrating the technology into their marketing strategy. 

“Qualcomm has invited me to take a look at all this technology at their HQ,” says Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner. “My mind started racing – what could we use augmented reality for?”

Cubans friend John Robison then set up Big PlayAR to work on AR ideas. 

“The first thing that came to mind was in the arena for menus,” says Cuban. “You could take an app and point it any of the menu boards in the arena and have it automatically translate it into any language. But in order to get there you have to start somewhere. We wanted to create an application that not only gave people experience will AR, but also added value to our playoff tickets. Our tickets get into more than 10,000 peoples hands, so it was a great place to start. Working with BigplayAR and Qualcomm we created MavsAR.”

MavsAR is the franchises first foray into AR applications. Its a simple AR game in which the user points a device running the app at their Playoff game ticket. A graphic hoop and basketball player is then laid over the ticket, and the user gets to play a simple AR shooting game. 

“We wanted to figure out a way to add more value to tickets. We wanted to make them not only collectors items, but to also turn them into a game,” says Cuban. “At some point we will integrate it into our MMFL application, which has all of the stuff that the Mavs are doing. Once you have the app in place, well be able to update it with other features.”

Jay Wright, director of business development at Qualcomm, says that its approach to AR allows for a wider range of applications that the mapping apps that have been prevalent so far. 

“Many AR apps are AR browsers – they let you point your camera down the street and see points of interest rendered through the camera,” says Wright. “Many of these applications use compass and GPS in order to place graphics. The issue is with alignment – the apps are using the devices compass and GPS, and while those technologies are very accurate, theyre not sufficiently accurate for us to tightly align the graphics with the underlying world, and thats whats important for coming up with a compelling AR experience. So at Qualcomm were taking a different technology approach.”

Wright says Qualcomms approach is vision-based. “Were turning that camera into an eye,” he says. “Were recognising certain objects in the environment, and when the app recognises those surfaces, were able to follow those and position graphics directly on top of them or next to them. The big advantage of this? A more compelling user experience.”

And in terms of branding, the game adds collectibility to the tickets, and adds a fun dimenson to the fan experience. “There are different players on different tickets, and the player that come up in the game matches the guy on your ticket,” says Wright.