Posted on July 12, 2017 by staff

The sports VR tech used by Fortune 500 companies


A cutting-edge tech firm in the US is looking to expand the reach of its NFL-leading virtual reality training technology in football – while it is already entrenched in big business.

California-based start-up STRIVR Labs raised $5m in funding in December 2016.

It began working with several American football college teams and NFL franchise the Dallas Cowboys as early as 2015, delivering a first-person viewpoint using 360-degree cameras situated directly behind the quarterback.

The company’s founder and CEO Derek Belch believes that, while it began working with top-level US baseball, basketball, ice hockey and soccer teams in 2016, the tech is best-suited to the static nature of gridiron.

His brother Danny, head of the company’s strategy & business development and formerly of Google, says the ‘beautiful game’ does offer opportunities however.

He told BusinessCloud: “We have captured over 35,000 plays in VR since 2015. Those plays have been viewed over 50,000 times across 2,600 VR sessions. We have the largest VR dataset in the world.

”There are certainly challenges to using VR to train in more free-flowing sports like soccer.

“However, there are certain use cases – penalty kick preparation, set pieces, and outside defender decision-making, for example – that are perfect for the medium, and that’s where we’re focused for now.”

STRIVR’s appeal to investors is in its decision to expand its offering into businesses, with a ‘handful’ of Fortune 500 companies already using its VR training programs in sales, operations, customer service, safety and human resources.

“We train individuals to perform their jobs more effectively through pattern recognition and decision-making,” added Danny Belch.

“[It works] anywhere that visual repetitions count, such as a construction foreman identifying problems on site.”

VR could become a niche technology if developers don’t work out how to make the viewing experience social, according to Roger Antunez, co-founder and CEO of Barcelona-based wearable sporting tech firm FIRSTVISION.