NFL teams test virtual reality at 2015 training camp

A handful of National Football League teams are using technologies to simulate different perspectives analyze player performance.

Among all the talk of rookies, holdouts, fresh starts and, of course, the never-ending Deflategate conversation, there's buzz around a new topic at NFL training camps this year: virtual reality (VR). Several teams in the NFL are testing VR during summer practices in hopes of giving players new perspectives, in-depth data during film studies and a leg up on the competition.

"[Game] tape is extremely valuable, and now you have a new perspective with a new camera angle," says Mark Fidelman, founder of Fanzeal, a social network for athletes, teams and fans, and author of Socialized!: How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social. "There's going to be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking with this device, and it's only going to increase because the coaches and staff can see everything now."

Virtual reality catches on in NFL

At least five NFL teams -- the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints -- are using Strivr Labs software for VR. Derek Belch, a former Stanford student and football player, founded the company along with one of his Stanford professors.

The Strivr system uses footage captured by 360-degree cameras placed in close proximity to players, and then plays it back via VR headsets. Strivr currently works with Oculus Rift headsets, and they plug into computers that run Strivr's system. The footage is not animated or manipulated; it's actual footage of practices, which Strivr uses to build a library of plays for each team to watch.

[Related Feature: Fan experience key to success of drones, VR in pro sports ]

Belch says the company uses real footage instead of computer-generated imagery because it's much more effective for the players. "[W]hen you watch video games in an immersed environment it's cool, but when trying to train athletes' brains, they will tune out and end up making decisions off of false cues." Gathering and organizing real footage is labor intensive, however, and every recorded play must be manually entered into the system.

The advantage of VR for professional football players is the ability to watch plays in an immersive environment anywhere, anytime, according to Belch. "In the NFL especially, they've stripped away how much time teams are allowed to spend on the field," he says. Players can use [VR] "extensively when they aren't on the field and will be getting reps."

Belch wouldn't share specifics on how much NFL teams pay for the system, but he did say that the company is working on a related consumer product, and the plan is for fans to eventually try it out during games.

Multiple players in the virtual reality game

Another VR company, Eon Sports, partnered with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Eon has several products, but the two main methods used by professional football teams include a video VR device that records plays from one player's perspective to view later, using a Go Pro camera; and Sidekiq, which lets users slide any smartphone into a VR headset and then view computer generated simulations. Both methods use Eon's proprietary streaming engine to deliver footage to smartphones and VR headsets. The company's products work with hardware from other brands, including Oculus Rift headsets and Go Pro cameras, but it also makes its own headsets.

Brendan Reilly, Eon Sports CEO, says scalability is an issue with the Go Pro method because the video only shows one player's perspective. On the other hand, the perspective can be switched from linebacker to wide receiver to quarterback, using computer-generated simulations. In just a few minutes, coaches can create any computer-generated scenarios they want, and players can view them through headsets, according to Reilly. In other words, teams could theoretically convert entire playbooks into VR simulations.

"Our engine breathes life into the Xs and Os," he says, because it also provides analysis of how well players understand the plays. "We know when you're in there at quarterback, if you've executed the throw correctly, and if you threw it on time."

Reilly says the Bucs use parts of both Eon's VR methods. He declined to specific how much the team pays for the system but said the cost for NFL teams generally is between $1,000 and $75,000, depending on usage.

Ultimately, VR will likely be most valuable to players who are decision-makers on the field, such as quarterbacks, linebackers and defensive backs, according to Fidelman. "Anyone that's got to read the offense or defense and make critical decisions in real time will find value from it."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

The best part: optimizing your site for SEO enables you to generate high traffic, and hence free B2B lead generation. This is done throug...

Sergiu Alexei

The top 6 content challenges facing B2B firms

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Check out tiny twig for comfy and soft organic baby clothes.

Morgan mendoza

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

NetSuite started out as a cloud-based provider of Enterprise Resource Planning software or as NetSuite solution provider, which companies...

talalyousaf

NetSuite to acquire Bronto's digital marketing platform for US$200m

Read more

Thanks for sharing this post, its really good information I get through this blog.CDPO Online Exam Training

Infosectrain01

3 ways Booking.com is improving its B2B marketing game

Read more

Blog Posts

Getting privacy right in a first-party data world

With continued advances in marketing technology, data privacy continues to play catchup in terms of regulation, safety and use. The laws that do exist are open to interpretation and potential misuse and that has led to consumer mistrust and increasing calls for a stronger regulatory framework to protect personal information.

Furqan Wasif

Head of biddable media, Tug

​Beyond greenwashing: Why brands need to get their house in order first

Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance is a hot topic for brands right now. But before you start thinking about doing good, Craig Flanders says you best sort out the basics.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

​The value of collaboration: how to keep it together

Through the ages, from the fields to the factories to the office towers and now to our kitchen tables, collaboration has played a pivotal role in how we live and work. Together. We find partners, live as families, socialise in groups and work as teams. Ultimately, we rely on these collaborative structures to survive and thrive.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in