Is Mixed Reality the future of coaching in sports?

 In CraneMorley, Mixed Reality Industry Insight

The term high-tech has been used in sports ever since sabermetrics has been introduced to the sport of baseball. The introduction of sabermetrics and advancement in technology has led to increased player tracking and heavy usage of these analytics in coaching and roster management decisions. So far everything collected and analyzed has been after the play or game. But now thanks to a study by New Jersey Institute of Technology the use of real-time statistics may change the way games are coached.

The study is based on a coach wearing the Mixed Reality Microsoft HoloLens headset. As the coach watches the game, they will receive “real-time statistics and facial interpretation data” to evaluate how to approach the pitch. They coach will receive information other whether the pitcher on the mound should continue pitching, walk the batter, or if they should call the bullpen for a change. Coaches also have access to a team of analysts and trainers who are remote but see the same information.

NJIT Associate Professor Tao Han emphasized the power of this technology not only for in game decisions but for remote coaching.  This will help remote coaching done over Zoom or Webex and incorporate a 3D holography to train players better. He also interviewed coaches from different sports such as basketball, soccer, and football and they all liked the idea. He stated, “they like to understand the status of the players” and that “the data is structured and visualized so they can understand what training the player has taken and what is their status.”

One of Professor Han’s research assistant Tyler Stafflinger a former pitcher himself sees this as a way help players and coaches be “proactive” rather than “reactive.” The goal of the technology is to also predict “how batters are going to be approached, or how pitchers should approach the batters.” He envisions this could be used to predict what pitch is throw next based on how “humans are habitual.”

The world of professional sports is equipped with plenty of technology as teams seek to gain an upper hand on each other. Some that is used to cheat. But Professor Han is focused on the positives and potential use for this technology. The potential use expands to other sports and other industries from healthcare to training. Professor Han also sees his telepresence solution as a potential “key technology that connects the physical world and metaverse.”

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