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How Red Bull Rampage put an AR mountain in your living room

Extreme tech was needed to recreate the mountain from this extreme bike competition.

Red Bull

If you're not ready to test out your freeride skills in the real world, Red Bull has brought extreme biking to your phone with augmented reality.

Red Bull Rampage is a mountain bike competition held in Virgin, Utah, where 21 riders perform jumps and tricks down the course. This year, Red Bull decided to bring viewers even closer to the dirt with a 3D model you can place anywhere in a room, using the Red Bull TV app.

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It isn't the first sporting event to use AR to enhance the viewing experience: The NBA and PGA have also experimented with standalone apps that let you shoot hoops, or see the shot trails leading up to a hole.

But the Rampage experience lets you interact with the virtual course in different ways. You can zoom in to see the riders as they come down the mountain or view 360-degree streams around the course.

The 3D model of the mountain was made from over 1,000 photos with a technique called photogrammetry. Because the mountain isn't exactly an easy subject to capture on foot, a drone with a 100-megapixel camera was flown to capture high-resolution photos from the air.

Four 360-degree cameras were also placed at key points along the course so viewers could dip in and out of the feeds and rotate their phone to get a different perspective. Cast out of aluminum, the cameras had to be rugged to withstand the elements of the Utah course.

This year was the first time that Red Bull integrated AR and drones with the Rampage event, but there's appetite to do even more with the technology.

Live streaming from drones could be one possibility: Having multiple aircraft in the air at once that you could switch between to change viewpoints. "Obviously, they have got to come down [and] charge their batteries, so it would take a bit of planning to pull that off, but it's not impossible," says Ryan Whitehead, creative director of Iconic Engine, the development partner behind the AR experience.

While the Rampage event is over for another year, you can still interact with the AR experience and watch replays in the app.

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