If you make a living hurling fastballs, prepare for a rough season. With the help of EON Sports VR, Major League Baseball teams are setting up virtual reality batting cages. They let hitters hone their swings with unprecedented accuracy, without wearing out pitchers or worrying about spring downpours.
Despite its star-studded customer base, EON Sports is still a five-person startup, based out of Kansas City. It’s led by Brendan Reilly, a former college basketball coach who wanted to find a better way to teach and train athletes under conditions that just can’t be found outside of a real game.
And he’s found a market.
On the high end, certain major league teams, which have sworn him to secrecy, have paired EON Sports’ software with banks of projectors and sophisticated motion-tracking gear to create hyper-realistic virtual batting cages. Players can experience the gamut of pitches they’d encounter in a real game, and the flight of each virtual ball can be tracked by coaches and players.
Of course, if you’re a science-fiction fan, none of this will be unfamiliar. The VR experience is something more akin to a Star Trek holodeck than an old fashioned batting cage. And it’s an experience that will send even the most athletic amateurs reeling.
«It’s pretty surreal how hard it is,» Reilly admits. «My developers like throwing 98 mile-per-hour fastballs along with 85 mile-per-hour changeups to watch me strike out against major leaguers.»
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