• Virgin Media O2 has partnered with Coventry-based charity, Positive Youth Foundation, to provide young people with a unique experience showcasing how technology can encourage more children to play sports
  • The event saw 30 local children play the world’s first-ever physical esport using augmented reality (AR) technology, Hado, at the O2 Academy in Leicester
  • Recent Virgin Media O2 research shows that introducing technology to sport would make it far more popular amongst young people and encourage them to get active

Virgin Media O2 has hosted an event with Coventry-based children’s charity, Positive Youth Foundation, to create an unforgettable experience for disadvantaged young people and highlight how technology is encouraging more children to take part in sports.

The event, which took place at the O2 Academy in Leicester, gave 30 local children from the Positive Youth Foundation the opportunity to play the Augmented Reality (AR) physical esport, Hado.

Hado is the world’s first physical esport and is a reinvention of dodgeball, involving players on opposing teams wielding virtual energy blasts and shields on a real-world court thanks to AR headsets and sensors.

According to Virgin Media O2’s recent research, technology can help get young people interested and engaged in traditional sports. The findings, which are based on a survey of 1,000 UK children aged between 10 and 16, found that introducing technology to sport would make it more popular among young people, with 25% saying they would watch more sports and be 24% more likely to play.

Local children at the event donned cutting-edge augmented reality headsets and used arm-mounted sensors at the specially commissioned event, showcasing how cutting-edge technology is rapidly changing sports and providing new immersive experiences. Hado is a very accessible sport that enables people of all ages to face off against each other, with the technology meaning that physically stronger people do not have faster or stronger bullets as these are coded before the game.

The event in Leicester follows a national Hado tournament in support of this year’s Children in Need, where Virgin Media O2 partnered with Ericsson to provide a seamless connectivity experience for competitors using a 5G standalone mobile private network to power the game at venues across the UK.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “As a proud sponsor of BBC Children in Need’s Hado tour, we wanted to give more young people the opportunity to experience immersive connected gaming. With children keen to embrace new technology, we were delighted to work with the Positive Youth Foundation to give these young people an experience they won’t forget and highlight how connected tech is being used to reinvent our everyday activities.”

Nikki Miles, Senior Manager at Positive Youth Foundation said: “Our young people had a fantastic time at Virgin Media O2’s recent Hado event. Exercise is so important to our physical and mental health, so it was great to see how technology can be used to encourage more children to get active. Events such as this are vital to our work ensuring young people in the area can have the best start to life possible.”

Jim Septhon, Managing Director at UK Hado, said: “The growth of Hado over the last few years has been really exciting and we are delighted to have worked with Virgin Media O2 to deliver this event for the Positive Youth Foundation. Hado is a great example of how technology can get children into sports, as well as creating a level playing field for those that are taking part.”

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