I played real-life soccer in VR. Watch me fail

I have now experienced the trauma of not being picked for the soccer team… in virtual reality!

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read

This is how 5G-enabled VR soccer is supposed to work. It did not work this way.


If you want a vision of the future, imagine a soccer boot stamping on a human face -- forever.

Virtual reality has given us 360-degree live streaming, zero-latency zombie shootouts and even remote surgery. But you know what it can't give you? Coordination.

Behold, your living proof. Her name is Claire, she was always picked last in PE and her soccer skills are abysmal. 

Enter VR soccer, a demo that has you playing goalkeeper in a VR game of soccer, catching a real ball while watching a 3D avatar kick it to you, all on a Vive VR headset. Finally the nerd has an edge over the jocks. 

Actually, no...

Turns out VR amplifies how much I suck. 

Please enjoy this GIF of my shame. 

Look upon the future and despair. 

Claire Reilly/CNET

The demo might not look impressive, but the technology is cutting edge. It was part of a 5G live demonstration put on by Australian carrier Optus to promote the glorious (glorious I tell you!) possibilities of 5G to the public. The showcase also included a robot that could beat you at rock-paper-scissors in real time. What a time to be alive!

The demo used Optus' 5G network to translate movements in the real world into a 3D simulation playing in my headset. This simulation was run off a 5G router that Optus plans to start selling to consumers in January next year.


Bot-paper-scissors: This robot uses cameras to see what shape your hand is in, then immediately responds to beat you.

Claire Reilly/CNET

Thanks to sensors on my Vive VR headset, on the gloves I was wearing and inside the ball, I could see my movements in the virtual world. And thanks to the incredibly low latency of 5G, my movements appeared in 3D in what was essentially real time.

The result? My human teammate threw a ball to me, and I caught it based on the 3D vision I was seeing -- without ever seeing the very real soccer ball flying at my face.

All was going well until we started upping the ante and my teammate began kicking the ball.

Low-latency, high-bandwidth VR with 16Gbps speeds is all well and good, but it sure as hell doesn't make you any more coordinated if you're a numpty like me.

Finally, the brightest minds in the tech world have used their skills to recreate the trauma of my fifth grade PE class… in VR!

Thanks, technology. You ruined the party once again.

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