Three Innovations That Bring Sports Indoors

Wii Sports dazzled users in 2006 with simulations of bowling, baseball, tennis, and golf. It was impressive — for an hour or two. It didn’t take long for the inaccurate controls and lack of depth to leave most players bored. More recently, VR companies have been producing sports games for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

However, some developers have created devices that deliver immersive experiences in unusual and unique ways.

Today, we will be looking at some high-end products that blow many efforts at sports simulation out of the water. They allow us to bring various sports indoors, complete with realistic-feeling controls and unprecedented immersion.

SkyTechSport Ski & Snowboard Simulator

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The SkyTechSport Ski and Snowboard simulator is a machine that consists of a long platform and a screen — or multiple screens, depending on your set up. It recreates the feeling of traveling down a mountain. Users can choose either a set of skis or a snowboard that are designed specifically for the device to make their descent. Dozens of sensors on the twenty-foot platform determine the position of the player and edging angles. Players must swerve on the platform to navigate slopes and avoid obstacles.

Users of the machine are very positive about their experiences. The SkyTechSport simulator has a range of difficulty settings for players ranging from novices to professionals. Newcomers to skiing report that the device is intuitive and responsive, according to reviews from one facility in Los Angeles that offered the chance to try the simulation.

This simulator is marketed to businesses such as ski schools, gyms, or physical rehabilitation centers. It is prohibitively expensive for personal use, and is far too large for most homes. The cheapest model sells for a little over $100,000, and it is over 20 feet wide.

TruGolf Golf Simulator

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Finding the time to regularly practice golf can be nearly impossible for most of us. TruGolf may have a solution. The company produces a line of simulators that allow users to play a round of golf with an actual set of clubs at a selection of up to eighty virtual courses, indoors. In order to play, the player simply hits the golf ball at a screen. Sensors determine the speed, spin, and trajectory of the ball, and the player is shown the results of the hit.

Reviews for the product are positive. The consensus seems to be that it is quite accurate, and the graphics seem to be more-than-serviceable. There are a wide range of courses that vary in difficulty.

The company markets this product to indoor fold facilities, bars, and recreation centers. TruGolf also sells to individuals, though it can be pricey. The set-up is purportedly designed to be portable, but there are several considerations when determining if you have the room for it — it would be a shame to finally get it set up, only to put a hole in the wall with your wedge.

There is wide range of options available for different budgets, but the cheapest model will still set you back $3,000.

The Sportfishin’ Simulator

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Checking Yahoo Answers or Quora, one will find endless entertainment in the debate over whether or not fishing is a legitimate sport. Nevertheless, we might reach a wider consensus if we ask whether catching virtual fish is a sport. It isn’t. But it looks hilarious and fun.

The Sportfishin’ Simulator is a device with a simple premise: The player holds a fishing rod that is connected to a hidden device that controls the tension of the rod. Video plays in front of the player that shows footage of fish underwater. The battle commences when the fish bites — then the “FIGHT IS ON!”; the player must pull the rod and reel in the target. It certainly looks like it would feel authentic, though it is admittedly a simple device.

The price for the Sportfishin’ Simulator seems to be around $4,000, though it is possible to request a more precise quote from the manufacturer.

Many users will be able to try out these experiences at arcades and other venues that want to break the mold with fresh entertainment. Perceptive readers may have noticed a trend with these simulators: they are expensive. There is no doubt that the old aphorism “you get what you pay for” applies to tech.

For those of us who are interested, but don’t have access to these simulators…

Well, we can probably get a pre-owned copy of Wii Sports for a couple bucks now, right?

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About the Author

Cody Hill

Cody Hill

Cody Hill is a freelance blogger with an avid interest in emerging technology and video games. In his spare time, he enjoys filling his Steam account with games he will never play.