Augmented reality: Is Pokemon Go-style technology the future of football?

Nowadays you can use your paper programme to watch videos… straight from the page.

It might sound like magic, but a forward thinking semi-professional club from West Yorkshire are making it a reality.

Supporters of Frickley Athletic, who play in the eighth tier of English football, can hover their smartphone over a page in the programme to watch match highlights which are often inaccessible for fans of non-league football.

The club’s programme sales have increased since it was introduced at the start of this season, leading to interest from Football League outfits as they explore ways of sustaining a tradition of the game which is coming under increasing pressure from new forms of media.

“I’m a football traditionalist – programmes need to be in football,” says Chris Medwell, co-editor of Frickley’s programme.

“This is a good way of keeping them alive. If league clubs with more money want to use this technology then the options are endless.”

So how is Frickley making this ‘magic’ happen? Can it keep the matchday programme alive? And what else could fans see pop up on the page?

From Pokemon Go to non-league football

Augmented reality. Never heard of it? The chances are you have used it, or know someone who has.

That’s because Pokemon Go – the mobile game that blends the real world with computer graphics played by millions across the world – is the most high-profile example.

Augmented reality (AR) is all about enhancing the view of the real world with computer graphics, allowing users to experience it on a smartphone through an app that uses the camera and sensor to overlay information on to the real-world view.

“Augmented reality is a developing tech which has been around for 10-15 years in different forms, but is now taking more of a consumer approach,” says Liam Foy, head of social at Bolton-based digital marketing company Bring Digital.

“The big Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, all use it to an extent.”

Medwell, a special educational needs (SEN) lecturer at Doncaster College, started using the technology to engage his teenage students and improve their learning experience.

“It helped them take ownership of their learning because it is more interactive,” he says. “Because they thought it looked like ‘magic’, they found it really engaging.

“When I was asked to co-edit the Frickley programme, I thought it would lend itself perfectly to football.”

Using free web-based software, Medwell creates a ‘trigger image’ which is printed on to a page in the programme and recognised by a smartphone app to play the video – filmed by his SEN students – on screen.

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