The HoloLens is a natural medium for 3D data visualization, which offers a far more ideal approach over 2D screens to managing multiple resources simultaneously and grasping the bigger picture. We've already seen how management is using holograms to oversee cities, firefighters, and the military, and now training for sports teams is being addressed with VAR Football.
At its core, VAR Football is a football training system that uses 360-degree videos and 3D rendered football players to provide immersive video training for real-life plays and to show off new plays virtually. This version has existed for over a year now, and is available form other companies working with football teams such as EON Sports VR and STRIVR. The two main modules in the system include:
- Virtual Reality Video Training: Allows the coaches to put a 360-degree camera out on the field during a live practice session. After the session, the players can go back and watch the practice session on the HoloLens with the ability to see it from different angles providing considerably more information than a traditional 2D camera and screen.
- Virtual Reality 3D Training: Uses a PC to allow the coaches and trainers to enter new plays into the system. The players then have the ability, using a VR headset, to run those plays virtually.
So how is VAR Football differentiating itself from the others? Imran Shafiq, founder of Dangling Concepts, an indie game studio with a love for the HoloLens, was brought in by VAR Football to add a new element to this project—holograms.
Aside from having created six non-HoloLens games with nearly 6 million downloads collectively, Shafiq, a rather active HoloLens Developer Community member, has been busy creating applications for the HoloLens since it first hit the dev market. His projects include HoloTankz, Holo Raid and HoloTerrain.
As you can see in the video above, the HoloLens brings another dimension to the possibilities with virtual training. Trainers can scale down the view to table size and work with the players to map out the plays they need to work on. The user can then, in the field, scale up to real-life dimensions and train against virtual opponents. Most competitive sports training regimens focus on the use of repetition to influence muscle memory, the purpose being to create split second reaction times.
Of course, for a physical sport like football, nothing can replace real full contact practice—yet. The full workout sessions build the necessary muscle and defenses the players need to handle the hits they have to take. But the ability to minimize injury potential during practice, which does happen, is significant. Also, a way to keep the muscle memory tuned for players that are currently injured seems a substantial boon as well.
There is currently no standard pricing information available for this service, and is currently negotiated on a per institution basis. The current client list for VAR Football is both high-school and college level. According to the CEO AJ Smith, "Texas A&M will be the first division 1 team to use it. Other small college football teams include Belhaven University and Southeastern University."
I think in terms of HoloLens development, it is safe to call Imran Shafiq a veteran developer. Aside from the projects mentioned above, he has completed seven other HoloLens projects for clients. Having received his HoloLens just last June, as part of Wave 2, this list would be impressive for someone working full-time as a developer. Considering he develops healthcare software during the day, with Dangling Concepts his passion project, well... his applications list makes me feel a little lazy and slow.
Do you see any other benefits to virtually training athletes? How many development projects have you finished in the last year? Let us know in the comments below.