Just in time for the NBA playoffs, Magic Leap has launched a really cool NBA application with some fun features in partnership with the NBA and Turner Sports – with the goal of getting the user more immersed in the many facets of basketball. The mixed reality (MR) application allows users to see player specs and do comparisons with the slide of a thumb. Additionally, users can watch multiple screens simultaneously by essentially putting up multiple virtual screens when in the application. The screens show content ranging from live games to replays to statistics rendered in 3D:


There have been some grumblings regarding the display resolution quality and the battery pack as noted here and here, but I expect that those issues will be addressed at some point (hopefully) soon and open up the immersive nature of mixed reality experiences even more.

The NBA App in Context

To understand the value of the NBA app, let’s take a step back and understand what sports really does for people, which is to:

  • Create communities (of fans)
  • Instill pride in one’s team and most often their city
  • Create social venues and interactions
  • Allow for a shared experience with friends and family

The app delivers on the first two functions of sports on an individual basis but does not connect people. And as a digital community, we should strive for connecting people. Remember when AOL chat rooms first emerged? People were amazed by the ability to find people of similar interests and talk to multiple people – essentially bringing people closer together. Nowadays, it’s easier to be separated by distance in our mobile society, whether we’re relocating permanently or traveling for work and pleasure. But we don’t want to lose our connections with each other.

Sports as a Social Experience

Now think of the social experience of attending, say, a Chicago Bulls NBA game in the United Center, where you can high-five the Benny the Bull mascot on the way to your seat, stand up to belt the notes of the National Anthem, and then high-five complete strangers sitting near you as your team scores a decisive slam dunk. There is a certain beauty in an interaction where complete strangers can become best friends for an evening. Those moments of fan camaraderie happen even during a season when the Chicago Bulls have a losing season (as with the 2018-19 NBA season). Sports are about experiencing the moments, and heightened by sharing those experiences with others. Mixed reality has the potential to create this experience for family or friends who might be thousands of miles away, wearing head sets via “Private Group Viewing” and swapping laughter and virtual high fives during a game – creating new sports memories especially during a post-season run to the NBA championship.

How might immersive realities such as augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality create connected communities? This is a compelling question that we ask often at Moonshot as we collaborate with businesses to design and develop products that rely on immersive reality. We’ve designed a product development approach known as FUEL to elicit empathy and emotions from users (or customers). Our design thinking workshops are crafted to keep the audience front and center in all activities and decisions. This helps produce outcomes and prototypes that generate actionable insights while delivering lovable experiences. Curious to learn more? Let’s start a conversation today!

Mark Persaud

Mark Persaud

Practice Lead, Immersive Reality