‘Get some (VR) glasses, ref!’ NFL considers training referees with virtual reality

nfl virtual reality referees news ref 1
Scott Boehm/AP
Referees are human and will miss calls, but the NFL wants to make them the best that they can be.  That’s why the NFL is testing the use of immersive technology such as virtual reality to train referees, according to an email from an NFL spokesperson sent to SportsTechie.

The initiative is currently in the early phases, according to NFL’s chief information officer, Michelle McKenna-Doyle, speaking with BizTech Magazine. This new training may prove to be essential following this past season. Besides superstar quarterbacks fearing for their safety due to precarious missed calls from refs, the NFL even acknowledged that refs missed an astounding 16 calls in the September 11 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Little is known about how the NFL will use this emerging technology to train referees, but you can get somewhat of an idea by assessing prior VR training programs pursued by the NFL. At least seven NFL teams have used virtual reality to train players in the past year using either EON Sports or Strivr, two VR companies specializing in sports training. In 2015, the Minnesota Vikings would put the jerseys of the team’s next opponent’s defenders in VR and have their former starting quarterback Terry Bridgewater go through reps practicing.

“So [Bridgewater] sees their blitzes over and over, and in seven-on-seven, the different run fronts they have, and make checks off of them,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told ESPN. “It’s a chance for them to play the game a few times before they play the game.” Applying that to referees, observing the smallest rule infractions — illegal contact on a receiver, a slight offsides — in realistic 3D detail could be a useful form of training using VR.

As long as the NFL does not bring back replacement referees, a little virtual reality training could benefit everyone — fans, teams, and players alike.

News

Listen up! White noise device may make VR motion sickness a thing of the past

A simple device that sends white noise vibrations to the inner ear could be all it takes to fix the long-running problem of nausea in virtual reality. The developers are now seeking FDA approval.
Gaming

Who needs a Switch? These 25 games prove there's fun to be found on 3DS

The 3DS is home to a large library, including some of the greatest games Nintendo has ever published. We've compiled this list of some of the best Nintendo 3DS games currently available.
Mobile

How to use Samsung’s Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Gaming

Find the perfect weapon in 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4' multiplayer with our guide

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has several different guns to choose from in its multiplayer mode, and they're split across multiple classes. Here's a guide to all of them and when you should use them.
Computing

Oculus VR could upgrade the Rift with a new display in 2019

Oculus could be set to release a new version of its Rift headset in 2019, but it will be more of a modest upgrade than a true sequel. The Rift S, as its purportedly called, will have a new display, and inside-out tracking.
Mobile

Google awarded patent for using eye tracking to detect expressions in VR

Google was awarded a patent that involves using eye tracking to infer facial expressions using machine learning in virtual reality. The tech could help make virtual reality a whole lot more immersive than it already is.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s $480M contract with U.S. military will equip soldiers with Hololens

Microsoft recently won a $480 million contract to equip American soldiers with up to 100,000 of its augmented reality Hololens headsets. Here's what we know so far about the new deal.