Virtual Taekwondo combines full-body motion-tracking and video games to offer the next generation of competitive virtual sports.
The 2020 Summer games are finally happening after being delayed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means the long-awaited return of Olympic-level taekwondo.
In honor of International Olympic Day, a celebration of Olympic values in which athletes participate in a variety of sports activities, exhibitions, and seminars, Singapore-based tech company Refract has revealed Virtual Taekwondo, a mixed reality experience that allows fighters to spar virtually using full-body motion-tracking powered by the companies Active XR Interface System (AXIS). Think of it like playing a video game such as Tekken, Mortal Kombat, or Street Fighter, only instead of buttons and joysticks, your body is the controller.
Virtual Taekwondo uses 10 sensors (or 7 if you’re using a VR headset) spread throughout various parts of your body in order to capture your full body’s movements and then replicate them in-game in real-time. The movements of you and your opponent are displayed on a giant screen in front of each player; it looks a lot like playing a traditional video game, only slightly more exhausting.
This system doesn’t require cables or any type of base station, which means you have full freedom of movement, allowing you to bring your own unique style of fighting to the game. Because your body is the controller, Virtual Taekwondo requires a considerable amount of physical energy, not to mention skill.
Sorry button mashers, luck isn’t going to help you here.
With the esports market on track to surpass $1.5B by 2023, Refract sees big potential with its AXIS platform. By partnering with the World Taekwondo Federation, the two organizations hope to develop a virtual sports program that can be used to promote physical activity through innovation such as XR. Another goal is to align themselves with the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5 vision (a roadmap of 15 recommendations that will guide the IOC and Olympic Movement for the next five years) in growing digital engagement with people all around the world.
In an official press release, President of the World Taekwondo Federation, Dr. Chungwon Choue said, “In today’s society, it has never been more important to transcend physical barriers,” adding, “With Virtual Taekwondo, we promote fitness, wellbeing, and community to a wider, digitally-savvy audience.”
Ultimately, Choue hopes that virtual sports will be a medal event at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Because AXIS is a digital platform, athletes across several disciplines will no longer be restricted by traditional sports barriers such as location, age, gender, and weight class; instead of having women and men’s divisions—or dividing athletes by age group—virtual sports will pit skill vs skill, regardless of physical form or characteristics.
“We are excited to support World Taekwondo and have our system tested at the highest levels by professional athletes,” said Michael Chng, CEO of Refract Technologies. “With advances in 5G, artificial intelligence, and edge cloud processing, usage of extended reality devices will become a way of life in the near future.”
Refract will be showcasing its AXIS technology and Virtual Taekwondo experience for International Olympic Day in collaboration with the World Taekwondo Federation.
For more information, visit the Refract website at www.refract.gg.
Feature Image Credit: Refract