Fans attending the US Open Tennis Championships in Queens, New York, which kicks off on Monday, will have the opportunity to meet tennis star Venus Williams in an augmented reality game sponsored by American Express.
Fittingly, Williams' younger sister Serena was recently featured in a 3D Bitmoji Lens from Snapchat in conjunction with another major professional tennis tournament, Wimbledon, less than two months ago.
As part of the US Open American Express Fan Experience, located at the East Gate of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the American Express Super Rally consists of eight bays with transparent monitors, where Williams walks players through the game via a video tutorial. The object of the game is to score as many points as possible by hitting virtual tennis balls at real-life targets using 3D-printed tennis racket controllers.
"Whether you're a casual fan or have been attending the US Open for a decade, our goal is to deliver essential benefits and innovative experiences that enhance the overall Championship experience and reflect our brand's best-in-class service platform," said Deborah Curtis, vice president of global experiences and partnerships at American Express. "Our partnership with the USTA is a prime example of how we're backing our Card Members and fans alike across their biggest passion points and favorite cultural events."
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The AR game is part an experiential marketing effort by American Express to promote its Amex Band contactless payment product, which card members can pick up in the Fan Experience area.
Augmented reality experiences for fans at the stadium or at home are becoming much more commonplace across major sports. Various NFL teams have updated their apps with experiences that enable fans to support their team on social media or play along with in-stadium games. Similarly, the MLB has previewed AR overlays of in-game action via ARKit for its At Bat app, and has also begun to include ballpark AR experiences in its Ballpark app for iOS and Android. And beyond smartphone-based AR experiences, the NBA is currently the first major sports league to launch an app for the Magic Leap One.
As ticket prices across major sports continue to rise, teams and leagues are increasingly looking to add additional, tech-powered fan treats to make the cost of attendance worthwhile to fans. Augmented reality experiences, therefore, have become an attractive solution for extra entertainment.