VR For All

Virtual Reality [VR] Training

In the early days of virtual reality and by early days I mean the availability of commercial and affordable VR which I date to December 2014 with the release of the Samsung Gear VR, StriVR was one of those pioneering initiatives out of Stanford University that really found a niche for this new technology of virtual reality training in using the technology to train quarterbacks. StriVR initially built relationships with top-tier collegian football teams and more importantly the NFL.

Jeremy Bailenson has been a key advocate in the virtual reality training industry. He is a co-founder of StriVR and is the founding director of Stanford’s virtual human interaction Lab. Jeremy Bailenson has also written several books on virtual and alternative reality and been involved in a couple of movie productions.

In the last few years, the advent of e-sports has become a multibillion-dollar industry. I believe that VR sports will be the next big innovation in the virtual sporting arena. Can you imagine not only watching and E sporting event but can you imagine actually participating in that event from literally the first-person point of view in a VR headset, we’ve all played videogames and we know what first-person shooters are like first-person racing all the things that we can do in a computer environment but extend that out so that your world becomes that virtual game that virtual VR sporting event and suddenly you have taken the engagement and the interaction to a whole new level and this is the promise that virtual reality holds for computer-based sporting. So look for VR sporting events to be a mainstay in the overall e-sports industry.

Walmart was one of the first innovators in looking at and adopting virtual reality training for their employees. In fact, it was a pilot project based on how to train employees to cope with the stresses of black Friday that really kicked off virtual reality or VR training for Walmart. That pilot project was so successful that Walmart ultimately adopted for each one of their stores and I believe that their last purchase of 17,000 oculus mobile devices epitomizes their commitment to this new technology in the training arena.

If you were to ask me what is the one industry that really took off in the early days of commercial VR training, I would have to say that it was football… That’s right football… StriVR labs out of Stanford University was very innovative in looking at the value of human interaction from a virtual standpoint and realized that virtual reality could make a tremendous impact in training football players in creating virtual muscle memory to enhance their gameplay out on the field. Here at 360 immersive, one of our very first projects was a recruiting initiative using virtual reality for the recruiting coaches of Boise State football to be able to promote the advantages to potential recruits for playing on the team. We saw the advantages of training for football because the quarterbacks would actually mimic the plays that they were seeing virtually in the headset in real life and there is some distinct advantages in creating that muscle memory in a way that can be practiced over and over again and it allows a higher degree of competency out on the field. So when you’re looking at virtual reality training for football, it was one of our very first initiatives and we think rather fondly of those days even though we have since focused on safety and workplace training using virtual reality.

vBlue is a virtual simulation platform designed specifically for JetBlue that simulates the real-world operations of JetBlue Airways. I’m always amazed when we look at how organizations can implement virtual reality in unique and novel ways to help better their products services or more so to better the workplace when it comes to efficiency or safety. Why not give pilots the best in the way of training and operational teambuilding through the use of virtual reality and the answer is absolutely we should because whether we’re designing a simulation to fly a 787 or were training to create a safer workplace VR is certainly the tool of choice when it comes to supplementing the existing training model.

Virtual reality sports is going to be a multibillion-dollar industry because it offers something that no other e-sports platform can and that is the feeling of actually being in the game, performing, competing, and engaging in a sports activity that is by definition a completely virtual and yet it feels real to us. VR or virtual reality sports may become so engaging that it could put our traditional sports model at risk will kids rather play the virtual game then go out and play baseball or football or soccer and I guess time will only tell when it comes to that question. What I can tell you is that as the hardware and software mature virtual reality sports will become a mainstay entertainment value for a great many people worldwide.

In the early days of our investigation into virtual reality technology, we actually worked with the Idaho stampede to look at virtual reality basketball and especially in the training aspect. Virtual reality basketball holds a high degree of promise to allow people to understand and experience the game of basketball in a way that they may not be able to in the traditional sense. And what could be more fun than that to join your friends in of virtual game where you can play as if you were maybe 6 foot eight, very skilled in the game, and you can feel like you’re actually playing at the highest level of the NBA. For me being 5’8” tall and having played basketball in my first years of high school, I’ve always had a desire to play at a higher level of skill and engagement out on the court and now I can because of virtual reality basketball.

Sports VR is going to be a major industry game-changer in multiple different sports venues because of the ability to let everybody view the game as if they were sitting in the actual sports arena and potentially from multiple locations. So if you look at a typical NFL football game which could cost hundreds of dollars to attend based on ticket, parking, and food why not pay a few dollars to virtually attend again and maybe a few dollars more with the option of virtually attending the game from multiple locations depending on where the play is actually happening on the field. Sports VR allows people in other locations, even around the globe, to view a sporting event and to support their individual teams as if they were actually in that location and in the sporting arena and it will revolutionize the support that keeps teams can command on a global basis.

United Rentals has been an innovator in utilizing virtual reality or VR training in creating a better working environment for its employees. United rentals equipment sales have been a huge advocate of using virtual reality to train everything from construction training to equipment operation all with the goal of a safer work environment. The advantage of using VR to United rental equipment sales is that the digital content can be replicated over and over and it is extremely consistent in its training approach. Beyond that, the aspect of actually placing a trainee or adult learner in a simulation that literally feels as if they were operating that particular piece of equipment is game changing.

Virtual reality in sports is becoming a fundamental tool in a coach’s training repertoire to give their athletes the best foundation in their particular competitive sport. Virtual reality in sports has been around for about six years now but is becoming affordable enough so that even high school teams can apply the technology for the betterment and success of the program. If you think about it being able to train using a technology that just a few years ago would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and being able to do so at a high school level is certainly groundbreaking. More so virtual reality in sports is raising the level of athletic ability as never before and that will certainly be good for our athletes and for those that enjoy spectator sports.

Virtual reality sports training started six years ago when VR became commercially available to organizations and teams at an affordable rate. Prior to that virtual reality, training was really only available to organizations that could afford a high budget such as the military, the aviation industry, and certain aspects of surgical training in the medical industry. Virtual reality sports training is a key tool now in training athletes to reach their highest level of athletic ability and skill because we can actually place an athlete in a simulation and they will feel as if they’re actually performing the play out on the field. We actually started virtual reality sports training in 2016 in conjunction with Boise State football as an initial pilot project. This initiative led us into our current focus which is using virtual reality or VR training for safety and also to create a better workplace from a productivity standpoint. We will always look back with fondness on virtual reality sports training even though that is not our main focus now it to a certain extent is where we came from.

Michael Casale is one of the key stakeholders and chief science officer at striver labs which specializes in virtual reality training for sports and industry.  Michael Casale has been instrumental in moving the virtual reality training industry forward in conjunction with striver labs and was really provided a groundbreaking foundation in the science of VR.

Football virtual reality… What could be more fun than actually feeling like you are involved in an actual football game but using the technology of VR or virtual reality to accomplish that gameplay and engagement in a fun activity? Football virtual reality gives you that feeling of actually playing the game which offers a tremendous amount of entertainment and a high level of engagement in recreational activities. Virtual reality for football will also give new players a level of foundation as they start playing the game in real life that could never be obtained before. Football virtual reality whether it’s used for training or for entertainment will certainly be on everyone’s mind as we move forward into the 21st century.

Virtual reality football simulator was first developed by StriVR Labs out of Stanford and turned out to be at the forefront of groundbreaking technology for training athletes in a new and profound way. Virtual reality football simulator utilizes 360° cameras to capture plays and performance methods and then be able to replay those events so that future players and especially quarterbacks can visualize the play and interaction of the players and oppositions out on the field. This type of training is been utilized for decades but the key fundamental difference is the fact that it has become affordable and almost ubiquitous in the sports training field. Virtual reality football simulator is certainly a groundbreaking technology but it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value and impact that virtual reality or VR training has in the overall training arena.

Striver VR is a company dedicated to virtual reality training that was started around 2015 with the advent of commercialized and affordable VR training.  Striver VR is based in Southern California and works in conjunction with Stanford University to create VR or virtual reality training content for sports and industrial applications.

Football VR was one of the first applications for the new technology of virtual reality, or should I say the new affordable technology based on the use of inexpensive mobile devices and headsets. Football VR was spearheaded by StriVR Labs working in conjunction with Stanford University and has been instrumental as a training tool for upper echelon collegiate teams and of course, most NFL teams utilize the technology. In recent years, the cost of football VR training tools has come down to the point that even forward-facing high school teams can use the technology for the betterment of their athletes and competitive outcomes.

VR in sports… Who would not want to be able to attend a sporting event from the comfort of their own living room and literally have the best seats in the arena while watching their favorite team? That is the promise that VR sports offer by allowing spectators to literally have the best seat in the arena whether it be the 50-yard line at an NFL game or maybe a great view of the goalie’s box at a professional soccer match. VR in sports offers the ability to go to a game virtually even though you may be hundreds or thousands of miles from the event. Ticket costs for participation are another advantage that VR in sports offers. Why not pay a few dollars for of virtual seat rather than the hundreds of dollars based on ticket prices, parking, food and drink not to mention in some cases battling the elements when it comes to rain or snow to watch your favorite football team, as an example. VR in sports will be a multimillion-dollar industry and it will increase participation for a particular team or organization because a spectator can feel they are actually part of the game even though they’re hundreds of miles away.

Walmart employee training utilizing VR was certainly revolutionary and groundbreaking in its approach. Walmart created an initial pilot project based on its employees dealing with the stresses of black Friday and they found that using virtual reality significantly increased productivity and reduced overall stress load for their employees. Walmart employee training affects hundreds of thousands of employees every year in the introduction of virtual reality or VR training supplemental modules to that basis of training content was instrumental in increasing efficiency and generating a positive ROI. One point that epitomizes the commitment of Walmart employee training to the virtual reality training industry is their purchase of over 17,000 oculus mobile devices to distribute to their stores.

Verizon virtual reality is a great topic to discuss because of Verizon’s commitment to supporting mobile devices that display  virtual reality. Verizon is where we bought our first virtual reality headset in the form of the Gear VR in late December 2014. Verizon understands the value of virtual reality because it utilizes every service and product that Verizon offers in the form of mobile devices, data, and other goods and services. Verizon virtual reality certainly will be looked back upon as one of the forefathers in the virtual reality industry.

StriVR Labs is one of the forefathers of the VR training industry and they started out with a singular focus on using VR or virtual reality for training in the football industry. Football is you know is a complex sport that takes a high degree of athleticism and strategic play to be successful. StriVR labs knew that utilizing 360° cameras in conjunction with mobile devices and headsets could offer a successful virtual reality training tool that initially top-tier collegiate and NF L teams could afford. Ultimately the cost of the training has come down to the point that even high school teams can utilize virtual reality training in their team programs. StriVR Labs realized the value of virtual reality training in the football industry and extended that technology into corporate industrial applications with Walmart being one of their first success stories.

Walmart is one of the innovators when it comes to VR training for its employees. Walmart training modules now include virtual reality training as a supplement to the standard training that Walmart employees have enjoyed for years. This enhanced training technique using VR is increasing engagement and also increasing employee knowledge retention for the course material. An ancillary value is that the employees find the training much more engaging and actually look forward to the Walmart training modules because of the VR content. We will look back at some of these innovative companies such as Walmart and appreciate the fact that they took that first step to create a better workplace for their employees by using virtual reality in their Walmart training modules.

Virtual reality football training was one of the first groundbreaking applications for immersive training and the technology has become almost ubiquitous in the NFL, top-tier collegiate organizations, and even forward-facing high school programs. The technology is now available at an affordable price and the advent of new hardware and new software makes it even more impactful in dealing with training specific processes and procedures and plays for football organization. So… When you are talking about virtual reality football training you can think about it as one of the first groundbreaking exercises in which immersive training has really shown the promise of the future.

What you think about when you think about sports and virtual reality? Well… First and foremost you think about training to do a better job for the players out on the field, to build up that muscle memory that will make the difference between a mediocre outcome and a strong showing on the gridiron. Second I think of the sports fan, what better way for of fan to enjoy sports and also virtual reality but to watch a game using immersive technology. If you think about it sports fans spend a tremendous amount of money to go to again if it’s an NFL football game it might be several hundred dollars per ticket plus parking and let’s not forget about food and beverages. But what if that same fan could enjoy the game by logging into of virtual reality platform and they could view the game from the 50-yard line or they can view the game from the end zone because that’s where the play is just by a simple command from the consult or headset that’s the real promise of sports and virtual reality is to be able to engage fans that may be thousands of miles away from the sports venue as if they were actually there in the stadium watching the soccer or football game.

Walmart virtual reality training was actually so groundbreaking and innovative for an organization that let’s face it we think of low-cost groceries that at first, we thought it was just rumored. The fact of the matter is that Walmart is extremely innovative when it comes to virtual reality training and how to make a better workplace environment for their employees so that they can be safer and also more productive. Walmart virtual reality training started with the pilot project that depicted a black Friday experience to help their employees deal with the stress and chaos that’s typically attributed to black Friday. The pilot project was so successful, Walmart implemented the training across all of their stores, and in fact, their last hardware purchase was over 17,000 oculus mobile devices to serve the needs of their training representatives in each store. So when you’re thinking of Walmart virtual reality training think about an innovative organization, think about a company that really cares about its employees, and is willing to invest in new technology that will achieve those goals.

Strvr was instrumental in starting what we like to think of as the commercialized VR training revolution in 2015.  Strvr labs started the commercialization of virtual reality training with initiatives working in conjunction with the National Football League and several top-tier collegiate organizations. Strvr was able to establish that VR training could make a significant impact on athletic organizations and actually enhance the outcome on the football field. Strvr has since moved into training initiatives for the workplace and has formed collaborative efforts with fortune 1000 corporations that are looking to incorporate virtual reality training into their curriculum.

One of the simplest and yet sometimes forgotten aspects of ownership of virtual reality headset is how to clean that VR headset. And in the world that is dealing with Covid 19, it is extremely important not only to clean a headset but also to sanitize of virtual reality headset. And it’s actually a simple process, we happen to use alcohol and detergent lens wipes that will not only sanitize the headset but also will not cause damage to the lenses. So if you’re wondering how to clean a VR headset it’s as simple as buying lens cleaning packets and going over each surface that might come in contact with humans if they are wearing the device.

One of our first projects was documenting basketball utilizing virtual reality from a training aspect. We worked with the Idaho Stampede and the Utah Jazz to look at the advantages of using virtual reality for basketball training and the results were impressive. Basketball is one of those sports that requires a high degree of team coordination and also situational awareness and that makes basketball extremely applicable for virtual reality training. Another aspect when you’re looking at basketball pertaining to immersive technology is to consider it from a fan perspective. What fan would not want to watch it basketball game using virtual reality from the comfort of their living room especially if they were hundreds or thousands of miles away from the gym in which the game is being played? The other aspect is that an organization could offer their fans participation in a great spectator sport using virtual reality at a cost that would be extremely affordable and they would not only be able to enjoy the game but be able to enjoy the game from the best seat in the arena. Or… Multiple seats in the arena just by a selection within their headset. So when you’re looking at basketball in conjunction with virtual reality there are many positive aspects in using this new technology to a game that we all love and enjoy and that is been around for 100 years.

Virtual reality in sports what’s not to love about using virtual reality in conjunction with sports. You can look at it from a training aspect, you can engage your players, you can train better, you can build a better team that understands the plays in the coordination out on the court or on the field, but more so think of it from a fan perspective in being able to use virtual reality in sports spectator circumstance that allows fans to watch the game like never before and without even being at the stadium or arena or football field. So virtual reality and sports is a natural fit both from a training aspect and also a spectator sport aspect and it will move both team engagement and fan participation forward for each sport.

Sports in VR… If you think about it Esports is becoming multiple billion-dollar businesses, especially in a world that is suffering from a global pandemic. So why would we not look at Esports and the immersive big brother which is virtual reality and not think about the potential for tremendous engagement from the global community at large? Think about being able to participate in sports and VR technology and play at a level that you as a fan could never achieve or engage and interact with fellow players all over the world as if you were both standing on and playing on a football field for instance that is the promise that virtual reality holds. So when you think of sports in VR, it is absolutely the coming thing and it holds great promise as well as a multibillion-dollar opportunity.

Virtual reality sports simulators are becoming the go-to devices to obtain the maximum athletic ability from athletes no matter whether it’s NFL football, soccer, or basketball. Virtual reality simulators can take an athlete to that next level of skill, situational awareness, and team strategy that will create positive outcomes when they’re actually out in the stadium or arena playing the game. Sports simulators have been around for a long time but virtual reality brings that level of immersion that has been only available to the military and aviation communities because the cost was prohibitive to sports organizations. Fast forward to 2020 and we see that virtual reality training is not only affordable but it’s also far more impactful because of advancements in the training software. So when you’re thinking of virtual reality sports simulators, think of the newest and most innovative tool that a coach or training consultant can apply to an athlete’s training regime.

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