VIDEO. JO 2018: biathlon for all thanks to virtual reality
Standing, rifle in hand, short of breath, I am about to shoot five CD-sized targets located 20 meters away : oh joy, I manage 4/5 ! Quickly, I take back the ski poles placed on the ground and I slide out of the shooting range, in pursuit of Martin Fourcade who, he – of course – has refueled at the speed of light and is already out of my sight. Despite my fast lifts, my downhill “shuss” to get the maximum speed, not to mention the encouragement from the stands, I struggle to catch up with the Olympic champion on this magnificent course in Antholz, Italy. This incredible biathlon experience is no longer reserved for world-class athletes : it is within reach of a helmet for the general public thanks to a virtual reality application designed by Eon Reality and the Antifreeze communication agency, on behalf of MGEN (partner since 2014 of Martin Fourcade). Sciences et Avenir was able to test this application on February 20, 2018 in Paris, in parallel with the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang (South Korea). All that is needed is the wind and the cold to really believe it !
The replica of Martin Fourcade’s carbine
In this virtual reality application-the first dedicated to biathlon and called “The Martin Fourcade Challenge” – the Olympic champion guides and advises the player at different stages of the course (before the start, at the time of the shot and at the finish). The test is simplified : only one lap of the track is carried out, there is no prone fire, and the distance to the target is 20 meters instead of 50. “Technically, we could not make it visible from such a distant distance,” says Hervé Leborgne, commercial director of Eon Reality. However, this does not spoil the immersion : endurance, skill, gliding speed, but also adrenaline are at the rendezvous. “Former biathletes like Alexis Boeuf recognized the very realistic application”, tells us Nicolas Papuchon, of the Antifreeze agency, who specifies that Martin Fourcade participated in the development. In particular, he filmed the Antholz course with a GoPro camera, which made it possible to faithfully reproduce the circuit and its altitude difference.
Virtually, we own skis, poles, carbine, like a real biathlete. In reality, the player does not put on skis but a helmet (HTC vive). Two joysticks mimic the poles (which are used to move the virtual skis forward). On the back during ski times, and in the hands on the shooting pitch, the player has a carbine (without a bullet of course). And not just any, the almost perfect replica of that of Martin Fourcade ! “We worked with the manufacturer of his rifle, it is identical in shape and is the same weight (about 3 kilos),” explains Hervé Leborgne, commercial director of Eon Reality. Only a sensor, developed by students of the IUT of Annecy, has been added for the technology to detect it. It took four to five months to develop this app, which was first shown at the European education fair in November 2017, and has been touring sporting event stands ever since. “This app is for the moment intended to be shown to the general public in trade fairs and not to be marketed, “says Hervé Leborgne, who adds that it” meets a great success ” since its release. Eon Reality, which has already developed virtual reality applications in American football and baseball, is already thinking about developing apps for other Olympic sports, hoping for the same success as “The Martin Fourcade Challenge”. While waiting to have the chance to test this application in virtual reality, discover an excerpt in the video below.
© Eon Reality