New England Patriots Take Training into Virtual Reality

New England Patriots Rodney Harrison leaps in the air on an attempted interception during the NFL Super Bowl XXXIX football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6, 2005. The Patriots won 24-21.  (AP Photo/G. Newman Lowrance)

American football team the New England Patriots gave out 10,000 customised Google Cardboard virtual reality viewers during their Sunday game against the Philadelphia Eagles, giving fans a chance to tour the teams training facility in VR with a new app.

The giveaway, carried out in partnership with Visa and the Bank of America, took place at the teams Gillette Stadium, which holds almost 70,000 spectators, and is the second of two Google Cardboard marketing drives in as many months, following the New York Times providing 1m readers with a viewer.

In addition to the virtual tour of the training facility, locker room and out onto the field, the team released the 360 degree video for fans without a Google Cardboard to enjoy. The VR experience was built using the Strivr VR training platform, which has proved a popular choice with brands looking to experiment with this new technology.

While marketing efforts like this have often been branded as gimmicky and faddish by critics, they may also be the key to wider acceptance of virtual reality beyond video games by getting a simple VR experience into the hands of people who might not otherwise try out the technology.