The Sports Techie community blog spoke with Brendan Reilly, CEO, Eon Sports VR, about their data driven sports technology for performance training. EON Sports VR uses virtual reality, head mounted, 3D plays to help athletes improve and win games like teams are currently doing in traditional film rooms. The former hoops manager for Kansas Basketball Head Coach Bill Self said he had to speak to the person responsible for over 67,000 Sports Techie sports technology centric tweets, about his company that launched in August with NFL capability, so he did.
EON Sports VR
According to Reilly, “Our software is a user intensive football only training tool that uses technology proven to teach better than game film.” His tech can help coaches teach the playbook and it gives a player more reps in game like scenarios much like a fighter pilot does so you can practice perfect while at game speed.
To be able to measure mental and physical performance per 1,000 attempts rather than with a few live snaps during an in-season practice routine is what EON Sports VR does with proven technology that can extend careers and lives too. Their helmet cam enables players to experience any scenario, from youth to pro. Train the brain by doing repetitions with EONSportsVR SIDEKIQ.
Use referral code: sportstechie for EON Sports VR sales inquires.
Athletes can use VR tech to view plays from any angle of the field. It is easy to follow a chosen player’s path or the flight of the ball in 3D. Pan, zoom and tilt your player from all angles of the field as you learn to master complicated offensive formations and defensive alignments from a first person point of view (POV). Football is the perfect sport for VR. Quarterbacks have one or two seconds to make reads before the snap akin to fighter pilot training. With VR, players are not subjected to high-impact hits that cause concussions and pilots are not shot down out of the sky.
At the end of the Alabama vs. LSU big college football game last weekend, the LSU quarterback had a chance to locate and complete a pass to a wide open wide receiver in the slot but did not see him and passed into traffic incomplete. Perhaps if he had run that play 100 or 500 times in SIDEKIQ he would have mentality conditioned his brain to see the open receiver as he did his check downs. This past weekend, the Green Bay Packers backup QB to injured Aaron Rogers went down early on forcing the third stringer into the game who most likely got a handful of practice reps before Sunday. If they had SIDEKIQ, the third stringer could have been better prepared to win the game instead of lose it.
Injuries happen 91.8 percent of the time during practice and a surprising 1.3 percent occur during a practice or game walk through. Injuries are more likely to occur two and even three times more during the preseason. If a player is indeed a team investment, the last thing anyone wants is for an injury to happen in preseason, practice or a game like walk-through.
EON Sports VR is the brainchild of Reilly who teamed up with Eon Reality in Irvine, the world’s leading interactive 3D solutions for business and education based on Virtual Reality technology. They have been servicing customers since 1999 with visualization solutions that improve communication and knowledge transfer via simulation base learning.
I asked how much money has been invested to this point. It took about one year to develop the working prototype and product to the tune of a ballpark figure of $600,000, give or take a few 100K.
The project architects and leads, Lloyd Churches and David Huang, are not sports people and did not understand the game of football going into the development of the prototype. Lloyd has been pioneering with EON since 1999 and David is their animation expert. Brendan taught them early on how to breakdown the flow of a game and little everyday details like what a three-point stance is.
Kansas is the first proactive team to partner with EON Sports VR. Memorial Stadium in Lawrence is used in the demo video which gives them the option of “First Right of Refusal.”
Universities in the Big 12, Big Ten and MAC are the newest to sign on.
SIDEKIQ VR training software for football enables coaches to replicate game-like plays, scenarios, and situations. SIDEKIQ helps all age and level of athlete make faster, more accurate decisions for improved performances.
Create plays with a 2D look that mimics the exact motions of the players. Editing is simple, click, drop and drop to design new plays or make adjustments in existing playbooks. Simply click the 3D button and instantaneously the play is changed to the three-dimensional format. Save plays and export them to work on offline.
I asked about terminology and how they can ensure protection of each team’s secret formations, assignments and resulting custom terminology that changes week to week. Brendon says because EON Reality has so much experience working with the security of oil and gas companies, and defense contractors, they are experts at safety and having proper security measures in place. Their parent company has worked with the treasury, aerospace and education. Drone maintenance projects and airplane operations VR are just a few of EON Reality’s newest work orders.
SIDEKIQ site license purchases range from $750 up to $25,000, depending on the scope of each project. Over 150,000 youth and high school programs are their newest customer targets.
EON Sports VR SIDEKIQ
Assign motions and use the “Speed Slide” bar to adjust the motion interaction animation. Skill position players and lineman can be programed to move from point A to point B with the Speed Slide bar. The burden here is that every movement by every player in every play needs to be given data as to what motion to do which at the moment is somewhat labor intensive.
Play creation package are available using an off-loaded game file. EOB Sports VR hires Play-Creation independent contractors to provide the tedious service of drawing plays for interested teams. They charge on a per-play basis.
Biz Dev, Marketing, Sales, Social Media
They are currently selling to football programs during the in-season period which makes it difficult to conduct sales. Most sales opportunities will happen in the off-season. If an order is place before December, it will be ready to use by the start of the 2014 off-season. Resellers are typically high school coaches who refer others using a referral code that can be tracked.
Use our referral code: sportstechie for sales inquires.
Reilly’s first demo was with the San Diego Chargers QB coach and video coordinator (who are no longer with the team). He has talked to Super Bowl MVP’s about his sports tech startup and they are keeping a virtual eye on his company. “We have the verbal support of the NFLPA,” said Reilly.
The system was designed to be structured to scale and achieve mass volume potential.
The likes of Nike, Adidas and Under Armour already know about EON Sports VR as does the medical profession and doctors who have shown interest in their VR sports tech.
It did not surprise to hear that he has been working through the marketing department at their newest accounts. The IT departments and coaching staff are next steps in the sales closing process but not before the marketing department approves the purchase order. Sponsorship opportunities inside the virtual environment abound. Product placement by athletic equipment companies, signage displays throughout the virtual stadiums and exclusive naming rights are additional company revenue streams.
Social media marketing already is off to a good start via hashtag #TrainYourBrain and #wherevideocant.
I was curious why they used Vimeo rather than YouTube for promotion. Reilly said, “It was a marketing decision, they like the clear interface.”
Virtual Reality and Beyond
This rendition of the VR product is technically not virtual reality since it displays on one screen only for now, it has been scaled down for use by individual players.
The Operations team at KU has discussed “cave environment” needs with EOR Reality VR. Augmented reality glasses and displays from a wireless platform are new product verticals. They want to interface with IQ, Mobile IQ, Head Mounted Displays and 3D Projectors. Mobile tech like smartphones and tablets were looked at but the current needs for animation displays in these products and others like Google Glass have a limitation in the hardware for proper recreation of holographic football players.
The EON Sports future is with interactive technology devices such as the Xbox One Kinect infrared and Sims that conduct assessments. Player testing and assessments will be available next year.
There is no exit strategy in place but a traditional buyout is understandable. He mentioned that Twitter’s IPO success was because of the amount of eyeballs they have which is exactly what EON Sports VR intends to do in their Industry. Once they build out for two or three years they will then take a look at possible investors but for now, it is all about investing in organic growth via social media and marketing.
Sports Techie, Virtual Reality that lets you stand on the field is the ultimate EON Sports VR goal. Reilly is 26 year-old who has the business polish of a 30-year CEO. Besides his basketball management background, he gives props to earning a Master’s in Sports Management from Illinois State. I asked him if he was a Star Wars or Star Trek guy knowing full well what his answer was, Star Wars. Part of my inspiration for founding Sports Techie came from Star Trek’s hologram sim rooms.
Brendon was about to start with the online demo that is more engaging than game film when I cut him off and told him about my VR experience with sports training sixteen years ago. I was the Director of Sales in 1996-1998 for Sports 2000, here in Seattle, selling and marketing the Gridiron 2000 expert game planning system co-developed by Colonel James Thomes and Ultra Sports Techie Seattle Seahawks owners, Ken Behring and Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder).
Jim was a fighter pilot who converted Gulf War I technology into sports technology used for game planning. Near the tail end of 1997 season, the Seahawks put out an unprecedented bid for a virtual reality simulator. Sports 2000 eventually coauthored a proposal for the Seahawk together with WizBang! Software Productions, one of the world’s largest software manufacturers at the time.
WizBang developed a proprietary Animation Engine that was used in Microsoft Baseball 2000 for the PC. After the Seahawks VR bid was tabled, Sports 2000 folded and I decided to launch my first startup, SportsTechnologyandTraining, or SportsT&T, together with Wizbang. Wizbang founders had a massive amount of experience with simulators for the military and DARPA, in addition to helping pioneer the epic Atari Pacman game.
We put together an innovative digital business model and plan, recruited an accomplished management team and board of directors, as well as sports and business advisors. Our first SportsT&T product “Hey Coach” used WizBang AI for virtual training modules. Read: Why and How to be a SportsTechie.
The next step for EON Sports VR is to win more customers over. They have not spoken to the Seahawks yet but they will. Their next sports to develop are baseball and basketball. Look for them at the AFCA show in January, 2014.
It was a bit surreal going through this VR demo with Reilly already knowing the products key features and product pain points before seeing them because of the intersection of my career path over fifteen years ago. I suppose that is indeed why I am THE Sports Techie.
Please use referral code: sportstechie for EON Sports VR sales inquires.
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