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This Week in VR Sport: Nike Works on AR while Cricket Goes Virtual

While in the top part of the globe it might be winter, Down Under the weather is warm and pleasant, and sporting life continues on, with practice for sport such as Cricket and Rugby continuing in the balmy weather. What can the frost-bitten athletes of colder climes do to keep up? Well, there is always virtual reality…

Tests for VR Cricket System Ongoing in Belfast

With the performance of the England cricket team being somewhat variable this season, particularly away from home, the team have been searching for ways to improve the performance of its players. One of the difficulties of playing away is that each pitch has its own conditions and variables, with things such as weather and pitch condition becoming important at high levels of the sport. This is something that is very difficult to replicate with traditional training techniques. Not to mention how the style of individual bowlers can change the game significantly for batsmen.

As such, the England and Wales Cricket Board took a visit to Queen’s University Belfast to see Professor Cathy Craig, an expert on VR sports technology, who has been working on a system that reconstructs environments of various cricket pitches around the world, and also some of the best bowlers on rival teams, to allow batsmen to hone their skills against virtual bowlers.

Bowling is much more wearing on the body than batting, and as a result batsmen often face less skilled bowlers as team managers aim to conserve a bowler’s strength. The VR system allows for batsmen to train against highly skilled virtual opponents, without risking valuable players.

Raph Brandon, the ECB’s head of science, says. “The theory is excellent. We understand what the performance potential is. VR could allow increased learning in a safe environment against dangerous short-pitched fast bowling – a 14-year-old could face a virtual Mark Wood,” Brandon explains. “You could have academy batsmen facing a pre-programmed elite level of fast bowling and wrist spin over and over again.”

Nike Patents AR Headset Designed for Sports

Nike are one of the most recognisable brands in the world, with their products appearing on some of the most famous athletes, as well as pretty much everyone else, sporty or not. While Nike doesn’t seem like an obvious choice to move into the world of augmented reality (AR), a newly revealed patents shows that the company is working on a pair of AR smart glasses specifically aimed at use in sports.

The patents shows the AR smart glasses along with a smart golf ball, which pair together to allow real-time tracking, terrain information, statistics and swing information, letting golfers make better decisions on what clubs and swing strength to use.

It is unknown at this stage if Nike has plans to expand the device to other sports and paired smart devices, but it does appear to be a logical direction for the technology.