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With the U.S. Open in full swing, hundreds of thousands of spectators are currently descending on New York City to witness one of the marquee competitions in professional tennis.
Attendees of the Open, one of the four major “Grand Slam'' tennis tournaments held around the world annually, will also encounter an array of immersive, high-tech offerings from familiar brands designed to enhance the fan experience.
Companies like Tiffany & Co, American Express, social media giant Snap, and sports equipment manufacturer Wilson are capitalizing on the tournament to showcase their embrace of emerging technologies and offer peeks at future initiatives. Here’s a look at some of the activations and pop-ups taking place around the U.S. Open, this week and next.
Tiffany X Snap AR Experience
Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. has partnered with the creators of Snapchat on an experiential booth at the U.S. Open, where visitors can play with digital, diamond-encrusted tennis racquets and a championship trophy by looking into a high-tech augmented reality (AR) mirror.
The collaboration marks the first time that Tiffany has employed ARES, Snap’s augmented reality service, which helps businesses integrate immersive tech into websites, apps, and live experiences.
Passersby can seamlessly play with and hold the virtual Tiffany-branded racquets and trophies while looking directly into the company’s AR-rigged mirror, without any additional controllers or sensors. They will also be able to take pictures, through the mirror, in which they appear to be actually holding and engaging with the virtual items.
This is not Tiffany’s first AR experiment, however. Last year, the luxury brand partnered with Snapchat to allow users of the Tiffany app to virtually try on jewelry pieces and assess their fit. Such applications of AR are becoming increasingly popular among fashion and luxury brands looking to streamline the try-on process, both in stores and online.
The Tiffany booth at the U.S. Open is currently open and will run until the tournament’s conclusion on September 10.
American Express NFTs
For the first time ever, American Express cardholders will be able to connect their accounts to a crypto wallet of their choice to participate in the credit card giant’s latest “Member Collectibles” experience. First launched last fall at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, then at the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Los Angeles this summer, the program lets users collect free, commemorative NFTs at certain on-site physical locations to prove their attendance.
This time around, though, U.S. Open visitors who collect Member Collectibles NFTs will be able to use them to unlock financial perks in their Amex accounts, including discounts on partner products, and statement credits.
The digital collectibles were designed by illustrator Vero Escalante, and issued in partnership with POAP, the leading Ethereum NFT attendance badge service. Tournament attendees will have the opportunity to collect three NFTs in total at different locations around the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, one during each week of the event.
Wilson VR Experience
In August, sports equipment manufacturer Wilson launched a virtual reality (VR) tennis tournament in partnership with the online game Tennis Esports. Across the world, hundreds of competitors used Meta Quest headsets to battle each other for the top prize—an all-expenses-paid trip to the U.S. Open, and an opportunity to become the first-ever sponsored virtual tennis player, with a one-year deal from Wilson.
That tournament ended on Tuesday, with the apparent winner hailing from the UK. Now, visitors at the U.S. Open will be able to try their hand at the VR game themselves at Wilson’s physical booth at the tournament.
The game doesn’t appear to be a one-off fan experience; rather, Wilson appears intent on establishing itself as a leader at the intersection of sports and VR, in an attempt to expand adoption of the sport to a much wider audience.
"This collaboration is the cornerstone for Wilson to pioneer the convergence of sports and virtual reality, enabling true access and inclusion to tennis from anywhere, by anyone of any skill level; at home, at school or the office,” Jason Collins, General Manager of Racquet Sports at Wilson, said in a statement.