Last summer, drones were the tech du jour featured at NFL training camps. This summer, it's virtual reality.
If you haven't already heard, four NFL teams (Dallas, New England, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay), with six more a possibility, are all going to be using virtual reality technology to simulate live football action. There are two major players behind this new technology: STRIVR Labs and EON Sports VR.
If you were waiting for it, here's your Buffalo Bills tie-in: former Bills quarterback Trent Edwards is the Vice President of Product and Research development for STRIVR Labs.
STRIVR's technology uses a 360-degree camera near or on a player, usually at quarterback, to record video from that player's perspective. The feed is picked up and captured back at that team's facility. After practice, players can strap on a headset that replays the actual footage from practice. The player can turn their heads in any direction and see the entire field, and see their actual teammates on the field beside them.
Check out this video from STRIVR CEO Derek Belch, as he explains the technology on PFT Live with Mike Florio. (Edwards helped Belch develop the product.) Two more videos go further in depth:
As the videos mention, a quarterback can use this type of technology to hear what's happening on the field, including play calls, checks, protections, and audibles. They can also take mental reps, and read coverages without ever being on the field.
EON Sports VR, on the other hand, uses computer-generated players instead of actual players, and allows the user to program a playbook inside the program itself. Once the playbook is downloaded, the user can take the role of any player on the field, and see the game from that perspective. The company has four different types of simulators ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 in price.
With the collective bargaining agreement limiting the amount of time players can practice, technology like this could eventually be huge in the development of a quarterback. It also lessens the chances of an injury, and provides a non-starter the ability to take mental practice reps as a starter.
There have been no reports, to my knowledge, that point to the Bills as one of the six teams that will also be using this technology this season. I'm sure we all can see something like this being beneficial, as we all know the quarterback position is one of the major question marks heading in to the season. If this can help EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel, or Matt Simms in any way, the team should invest in it.
What do you think, Bills fans? Is this the type of technology that you will want the Bills to use?