The Development of Virtual Reality Hitting

Documenting WIN Reality’s development of Virtual Reality Hitting. See the  bottom for a performance log to track updates from our Data Science team.

WIN Reality’s goal has always been to provide elite training methods to hitters in baseball and softball so they can elevate their game; and players at every level have benefited from it. Professionals like Nadia Taylor and Paul Goldschmidt have been vocal about what WIN Reality done for their respective games. Max Soliz Jr., now the #1 ranked catcher in Alabama who’s headed to Arkansas’ D1 progam, has also been outspoken about the jump in performance he’s seen after using WIN Reality. Countless youth players have reached out to their WIN Reality Performance Analyst saying they’re more confident at the plate than ever after training in Virtual Reality (VR). Players who use the revolutionary training methods pioneered by WIN Reality see meaningful improvements in their game, and will soon be able to benefit even further.

WIN Reality has been developing VR Hitting and is now ready to release a Beta experience to our users. The project brought together a number of divisions within the company, including Research & Development, Performance Science, Data Science, Innovation, Software Engineering, as well as former professional baseball and softball players. So much has gone into this project that we wanted to provide users with a look into how we at WIN Reality are ensuring that your VR hitting experience for baseball and softball reaches the elevated standards that you’ve not only come to expect from WIN Reality, but also to which we hold ourselves. 

Oculus  Tracking 

WIN utilizes the Oculus controller tracking in order to visualize the bat in VR

Oculus controller tracking was one of the features that was improved upon between the Quest and the Quest 2. To see just how much of an improvement was made, we conducted a number of tests to learn about Oculus’s controller tracking and confirmed that the controllers’ positions are accurately tracked by the headset in order to provide accurate, real-time swing path feedback to the user. 

Through those tests, we found that Oculus tracks slower controller movements in front of the camera exceptionally well. Furthermore, tracking performed best inside well-lit rooms that contained few to no windows and mirrors. With these insights in mind, we focused the Oculus controller tracking on the bat visualization component of our application. To that end, we’ve developed the ability for hitters to use any bat they want in our application, as it only takes a matter of seconds to create the size of your bat in VR. This doubles as a safety feature, as your bat will always be the correct length as the one you are using after calibration. 

Diamond Kinetics Sensor

WIN Reality ensures accurate swing paths in VR by pairing with Diamond Kinetics 

With the controller responsible for visualizing the bat in VR, we still needed a device that could be the main source of accurate swing path tracking. We turned to other bat path sensors and began evaluating them. To test and gather data on all that was needed, the team relied on laser measurements, motion capture technology, and high speed cameras in our Research and Development Lab to determine if the data returned by a given sensor was accurate. 

Diamond Kinetics proved that they could provide the training experience our users needed because of their reliability and accuracy. The coupling of WIN Reality with Diamond Kinetics was a perfect combination between two companies that are consistently striving to push baseball training forward and give generations to come accurate and beneficial training. 

 

Combining the Real and Virtual Worlds

Bringing a real world swing into a virtual world is no easy task. WIN Reality developed a unique calibration method in order to establish the connection which makes hitting possible. 

Following the determination that Diamond Kinetics provided accurate real world swing path data, the next component of Hitting in VR was the big one – how do we take something from the 3-dimensional real world and translate that into a 3-dimensional virtual world that has no reference to that real world? Anchor points would be needed in order to visualize the user’s swing. This was done by developing a calibration process that utilizes both Oculus tracking and Diamond Kinetics tracking to ensure accuracy. With the link between the two worlds in place, it was then time to dive into testing for refinement as WIN continued down a path never before followed. 

The WIN Reality team then started conducting studies and implementing Diamond Kinetics into VR with the new calibration process. We tested a wide range of hitters:

  • Professionals to novices
  • Tall open stances to crouched and closed
  • Unique swing paths
  • Variable ball locations
  • Different bat sizes

 A significant finding was that each hitter is able to replicate their launch position extremely accurately on each swing. This was then factored back into the calibration process inside the application.

What’s Next?

What types of advancements to VR Hitting are going to be made? A lot. 

WIN is committed to ensuring that its VR training experiences are constantly being developed and improved upon. What will be seen in our Beta experience is by no means an end product. However, we are so excited with the progress and product we currently have developed that we wanted to put the experience in the users’ hands as soon as possible. Our impetus to proceed without hesitation is primarily driven by the incredible insights that can be learned from the feedback available in the beta experience.

Knowing how you’ve made contact, the potential you have for a given swing on a given pitch, and so much more is knowledge that we at WIN Reality know will elevate each and every player. VR Hitting will continue to be refined and soon you will be able to take live batting practice in the comfort of your own home and there will be no excuse not to get better every single day. With pitch recognition and hitting features fully developed, the progression of an individual player’s development at the plate will rest firmly in their hands. No matter the weather, or events of the world, hitters can step into WIN Reality and practice against thousands of game-speed pitchers, with real-time immediate feedback on both their ability to accurate recognize pitch types, and what happens after they’ve swung. 

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