William Hill takes on VR to offer jockey experience in virtual races

Bookmaker William Hill is beginning to dabble in virtual reality (VR), in the hope that it will inject more excitement into races in store.

Using VR headsets and GPS racetrack data, customers will be able to view the virtual race from the jockey’s perspective.

William Hill tried out the VR experience at a lab, where a 3D mock-up of Kempton Park racecourse was built, and collected live data via GPS trackers fitted onto horses.

Using this data, the bookmaker was able to develop a virtual race that users can view via Google Cardboard or the Oculus Rift.

Crispin Nieboer, director of innovation at William Hill, said: “Currently you place a bet and not much happens between that and the outcome,” reports the BBC.

"We want to bring customers closer to the sporting action, to experience the thrill of the ride."

The VR technology is not yet available to customers, but went on show during an open day at the company’s tech lab in Shoreditch.

During the day, guests were invited to choose the horse they wanted to race on, where wearers could turn and look at other horses during the race, as well as view a display featuring their horse’s heart rate and race position.

William Hill plans to add more courses and races next year, and is hoping to launch the VR experience as part of an app.

Although this tech demonstrates the power of VR, the UK’s Gambling Commission has said it will be monitoring the service to ensure that it does not encourage gambling, which can lead to addiction.

As long as this can be maintained, this development in VR just goes to show how popular VR is becoming and how the technology can transform everyday scenarios into much more exciting situations.

Read more on the VR sector here: How will virtual reality change the market?

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on Gaming is running throughout September – click here for more articles

Image source: William Hill

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