From my perspective of being an American, Japan is consistently willing to push the envelope when it comes to entertainment. Popular shows like American Ninja Warrior and Iron Chef America are modeled after Japanese shows and clips from Japanese entertainment go viral regularly for outlandish activities and inspire spoofs galore.
With such adventurous creative minds contributing to their visual media, it is no surprise that Japan natives are finding fun and unique ways to utilize modern technology. The Superhuman Sports Society is a company using drones, hoverboards, and more for accessible athletic contests. They’ve created 12 new sports and a couple of them even use augmented reality.
Launched in 2015, the Superhuman Sports Society’s goals exemplify the values from Japan’s Sport Basic Plan by focusing on three principles:
- All participants can enjoy sports,
- Along with the technology, sports continue to evolve,
- All spectators can enjoy sports.
The Society took these parameters to heart when crafting their 12 sports, including a wheelchair ball shooting contest, and came up with activities that put competitors on as even a playing field as possible. Hado is a sport that works with an arm sensor and augmented reality via a head-mounted display. Players engage in what’s essentially superhero dodge-ball, shooting projectiles that resemble Hadokens from Ryu in Street Fighter at each other and even erecting virtual walls to defend themselves. Hado Kart takes the concept to the streets, dropping players into motorized carts/scooters and having them lock onto each other’s vehicle to shoot as they maneuver around each other.
In 2011, Japan passed the Basic Act on Sport. The plan laid out a 10-year strategy starting in fiscal year 2012, including the Sport Basic Plan created by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) that improved the transparency of sports and steadily improved the development of sports for those with disabilities. Hopefully, similar initiatives will permeate across VR and AR, welcoming more and more into the fold.