The Dallas Cowboys have a new tool to help improve performance on the field: Virtual reality headsets.
Re/code reported that the nation’s most valuable professional football team signed a deal with StriVR Labs, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company that develops a virtual reality platform specifically for sports teams.
Players from both offense and defense will use virtual reality headsets to watch immersive, 360-degree video recorded from their perspective on the field. They can repeatedly review the play from a first-person view and look in any direction.
The idea is to make players feel like they’re on the field and to help improve decision-making. Re/code added that the headsets will also help backup players get a feel for in-game plays they weren’t apart of.
The Cowboys built a room at their practice facility just for the virtual reality system. The team also recently started to use drones to film practice.
StriVR Labs already works with a handful of college teams like Stanford University, Auburn University, and the University of Arkansas, whose head coach Bret Bielema said last month that the technology would “change the way we teach young men.”
The company launched earlier this year and spun out of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Former Stanford kicker Derek Belch (2003-2007) teamed up with Stanford associate professor Jeremy Bailenson (co-founder of StriVR) for his master’s thesis on the original product itself. Former Stanford and NFL quarterback Trent Edwards is the company’s VP of Product and Business Development.
An interesting aside — the initial idea for StriVR was to build the virtual reality platform for specifically quarterbacks, as the San Diego Union Tribune reported. But after Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll tried the headset on, he thought it could be used for defensive players, too.
Now, with the exception of the defensive line, the company’s technology can be used by any player on the field.
This technology can certainly be applied in other sports, so it will be interesting to see if StriVR expands into other areas. Virtual reality is also being explored for fans as a way to experience a game from a courtside seat, for example.