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Football training could soon get a boost from virtual reality


So far, the gaming and entertainment industries have welcomed the modern VR craze with open arms. In sports, however, that adoption hasn't been particularly prominent. Here's where EON Sports VR hopes to come in, starting with football, one of the most popular sports in the US. With a newly launched Kickstarter, and backed by legendary NFL coach Mike Ditka, the Kansas City, Missouri-based startup wants to integrate virtual reality into football training. Using a smartphone-powered VR headset (similar to the Gear VR), known as the Dive Sport, the goal is to build different coaching experiences for players that are "as fun as video games," yet as "serious as training camp."

Gallery: EON Sports VR in football training | 5 Photos

Just as well, EON Sports VR has its Sidekiq software to go with the novel hardware, a football simulator that teams can use to create plays and scenarios in virtual reality -- in fact, the software is already being used by coaches across the country, only without the headset.

Training drills will obviously be one of the most common uses for the Dive Sport, and there are a lot of people who know the sport very well involved with the project. Among them is Ditka, best known for turning the Chicago Bears into one of the most feared teams in the NFL during the '80s. "EON Sports is revolutionizing football in the way you study the game, the way you understand your opponent and the way you prepare," says Ditka. "And you will have a visual of it, which is much better than film [in] doing in certain situations. It's revolutionary and unbelievable."

Brendan Reilly, CEO of EON Sports VR, told me that, if successfully funded, "there are a lot of social aspects we'd like to integrate in the mobile version that go beyond just this Kickstarter."

"It's pretty unbelievable how everything has come into place so far. [The] first domino to fall was the fact that rendering complex interactive environments can now be done on your smartphone. Second was in getting such an positive response from the coaching community and having guys like Mike Ditka, Terry Shea and Steve Clarkson, among others, not only want to work with us, but [also] provide us with a wealth of knowledge at how this technology can help football players," he added.

"Our goal of $50,000 is the minimum amount needed to make this happen," Reilly says, "but we have much higher aspirations than just that."

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