Dallas Cowboys find VR is more than just a punt

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/filo)

One of the most-popular NFL franchises, the Dallas Cowboys, have dedicated a room at their training facility to virtual reality which will allow their quarterbacks, linebackers, and safeties to assess and hone their skills in brand-new ways thanks to technology from Stanford-based StriVR Labs.

When you're just watching film; you don't get the sound, you don't get that real-life feel of the game.

The wearable tech allows players to put on an Oculus Rift - or another headset - and watch scrimmages recorded from actual plays via 360-degree cameras attached to players' helmets. For the first time, this allows a coach to get on the field from the perspective of a player in order to show the team how they can improve under certain conditions and help to eliminate weak areas. 

StriVR is bringing the kind of immersive, first-person view that you would expect in a game such as Call of Duty - to football training. The company's founder, ex-Stanford Cardinals kicker Derek Belch, says: "Even the best Madden characters just kinda hover across the screen, they don't bump into each other and tell your brain, 'This is real.'" 

Belch teamed-up with Stanford VR guru Jeremy Bailensen to develop the system, and shot test plays from a hacked-together helmet cam which was described as "like eight GoPros rubber-banded together." 

In a trial with quarterback Kevin Hogan, the benefits were almost immediate. Hogan studied plays with the Oculus headset for just 20 minutes per day before games and told Fox Sports: "When you're just watching film; you don't get the sound, you don't get that real-life feel of the game. With this, I can see what the structure is." 

According to Fox Sports, the Dallas Cowboys were among the teams that saw a demo of the tech at the NFL Combines in February. One coach at the preview said: "I was expecting something kinda cheesy... and when I was about to write them off, they put the headset on you and shoot, it's real."  

Do you think VR will become widely-adopted for sports training? Let us know in the comments. 


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