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AR-based Sports Advancing Innovation for Inclusive Competition with Yuru

Individuals lacking interest in sports performance as a result of athletic ability can now enjoy sports-based competition with the help of augmented reality (AR) technology. A new solution helps them exercise more physicality in an accessible manner.

Augmented reality (AR) is an immersive technology that enables people to participate in digital information interactions within their own environments, by overlaying graphics over live video content. AR brings virtual elements to life, unlike virtual reality which immerses people in full virtual environments.

Yuru (translated: laid back) sports is one of the most unconventional augmented reality entertainment examples in Japan. Yuru sports lays a greater focus on entertainment and enjoyment instead of just competition. It utilises AR to enhance the accessibility of sports competition, at the convenience of users. Users can play the AR-based yuru sports version by installing an application named Snap Camera. The app gives them the opportunity to access numerous AR face effects using a webcam.

The World Yuru Sports Association in Japan aims to eliminate the barriers for participation in sports. It helps disabled people, individuals affected by distancing, elderly people and people with physical issues to enjoy competition through active recreation. Such a prospect has been a challenge in the past.

One of the many yuru sports. Image source: yurusports

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has raised the relevance of online activities and distanced experiences. It is changing the way individuals work, enjoy games and consume entertainment content. The World Yuru Sports Association has become an active participant in the remote gaming revolution. Recently, 20 people including several with disabilities participated in an augmented reality event established by the World Yuru Sports Association. Two teams participated in the event across six disciplines and a duration of two hours.

The augmented reality component was important for the competition. Virtual scorekeeping helped in deciding many of the event results. One AR discipline among the six was the dry eye race, which involves the participants trying to blink at 10-second intervals. The participant who went closest to the mark won the competition. Another event involved the participants racing to observe how many times they would succeed in moving up their eyebrows within 30 seconds. One of the six events required them to perform a range of facial manipulations within a designated time limit.

Several of the events only demanded users to perform facial movements. They did not involve any score handicapping and put all the players on equal footing.

Maiko Kuge, a TV personality and one of the participants, remarked that the face is a body part which also has muscles. She remarked that her perspective of sports changed. But, she also said that she became tired like anyone playing any other sport. Daisuke Uehara, a para ice hockey athlete who was a part of Japan’s 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, shared his perspective of the AR-based solution. He said that the game can be played by everyone including people who are at special needs schools or hospitals.

The World Yuru Sports Association has plans to organize another online competition in the near future.

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