As the Beautiful Science continues to follow the story on virtual reality software taking football training to the next level, we spoke to Brendan Reilly of EON Sports.
Launching in the summer of 2013, American company EON Sports has been one of the pioneers of the latest computer software innovation. They began working on software for American Football, before treading into the world of baseball and fan experience. Reilly was surprised how quickly it all came together: “Everything has snowballed into a bigger snowball. We started in American Football, as that is where a lot of value was, and added baseball, and now fan experience. Everything was predicated on someone seeing our tech and going “WOW how can I use that?””
Reilly has a background in coaching and saw VR as something that was to good to turn a blind eye on. His ambition to make EON a success is clear and even if things did not necessarily get off to a flying start. When asked about the speed at which there was interest in using the VR software from sports teams he said: “Not as quick as I thought there would be! But if you look at it on a macro level it was actually pretty quick. Colleges like it for recruiting and are willing to push boundaries in that area.”
Moving onto the subject of VR in football, the secrecy expressed in previous interviews came to the fore once again. Although unable to go into specifics, Reilly revealed what VR could do with the current data in the beautiful game: “We could perhaps see it coming to the UK, that’s top secret. What I can say is we know how to track a player’s positional movements on the field that allow us to recreate the game in VR. This can be valuable when it comes to re-living plays that happened on the pitch for training.”
Unlike Beyond Sports, EON use both computer generated imagery and live-view footage. This flexibility is certainly a strength of the US based company as they can offer services to suit each sport or team’s needs specifically rather than funnelling them into a system that they are not fully confident in.
For Reilly there are few challenges or limitations such is the rate at which technology can grow and improve, but he did offer some insight: “The biggest challenge is making it mobile, our system can do amazing things, but making it fit on the mobile device is hard, but we are getting there.”
Although he did admit that the task at hand in using VR in sports varies massively: “The more dynamic, the more challenging. Baseball is perfect for VR, American Football is good for QB’s but it’s hard to simulate the infinite amount of things that can happen. Baseball replicates real life, American Football simply gives you an idea.”
“It doesn’t change the way sports teams train, VR enhances it. It enhances how we consume game film. Like any training in VR – it gives you quality repetitions.”
Looking to the future the VR market as a whole appears set to continue its exponential growth. Summarising VR and technology’s use in professional sport in the future Reilly said: “There will be more data that can be captured as part of the athletes use in VR, and AR is coming down the pipeline fast.”