How virtual reality lets the mind move beyond the body’s limits

Oculus Rift VR headset

There are limits to what you can do to hone your physical strength and capabilities. You go to the gym, work out, go to the field, do some drills, reps, practice, or whatever else you call it whether you’re in any of the physically involved professions such as sports or the military.

However, the mind’s potential to grow stronger, smarter and faster dwarfs that of the mortal shell that encases it. There is virtually no limits to what the mind can do, what it can learn, and the more you train it the better it becomes.

And in some professions, split-second decisions can have dramatic effects, and sometimes decide the fate of life-and-death and win-or-lose situations.

The problem is, in most of the abovementioned fields, the mind’s progress is bound to the limitations of the body. As a quarterback, you can only do as many reps on the football field as your body, your teammates and the rules allow. As a ranger, you will push your body beyond its limits and train under the toughest of conditions, but at the end of the day, the pinnacle of your physical achievement will barely scratch the surface of your mind’s potential.

Fortunately, with recent advances in virtual reality technology, things are starting to change, and professionals will be able to train their minds in the most immersive and realistic environment possible even when their bodies have depleted their resources.

With the advent of high quality VR gear such as the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and the upcoming Sony PlayStation VR headsets; the production of high quality 360 degree cameras such as the Samsung Gear 360; and virtual reality reconstruction technologies such as those of Beyond Sports and Virtually Live; we now have access to experiences and environments that simulate real-life to near perfection. And this provides opportunities that were previously beyond our reach.

One great example is the solution offered by STRIVR Labs, which uses its gear to capture high definition 360-degree VR footage of different settings. The technology is currently being used in professional sports, specifically football, to train athletes to perfection. For instance, player positions such as the quarterback require a lot of sub-second decision-making under intense physical and mental pressure. Such a state of mind can only be achieved through repeating each play countless times.

On-field training of quarterbacks comes at a hefty price. You need all 22 players to create a realistic practice and reps will be performed at the cost of physical exertion of the players. Therefore, there are always limits to how much quarterback training you can do on the turf.

That’s why professional and college football teams always watch videos—both of themselves and other competing teams—when they’re off-field in order to complement the practice. But there’s only so much value you can extract from a flat, 2D video that has been shot from an angle that is different from what the player is faced with during the play.

What STRIVR does is it places 360-degree cameras at player locations during reps to capture the play from the exact angle of the players. Afterwards, players (or coaches) can don a headset and watch that play numerous times, in order to rehearse and learn that play to perfection. The angle provided by the 360-degree video, along with the VR headset features will provide an experience rivaling that of the real game. Every time you run the video, you can look in new directions, discover things you hadn’t seen before, gain experience on that specific play and be able to decide faster when you head for the field next time. You can also rewind and reset the video, which enables you to perform reps at a much faster pace than you could’ve done on the field.

Another advantage of this technology is that it bridges the gap between the coach and the quarterback by enabling the coach to see things through the eyes of the players and be better positioned to guide and help them

And you can train as much as you want in an air conditioned room, without being exposed to heat. While the STRIVR technology is being mainly used to train professional athletes, the concept can prove its uses in other fields as well.

The point here is that you’ll no longer be limited to what your body’s performance on the practice field, and you’ll be able to hammer your mind to perfection while your body rests.

Another technology that is worth mentioning is the virtual reconstruction of environments. Beyond Sports, which is one of the companies that provides such technologies, captures sporting such as soccer matches from several different angles and produces 3D recreations of the game.

The produced 3D simulation is an exact replication of each player’s position, movements and stance at every moment of the game and can be viewed through VR headsets. Viewers can choose to see the game through players’ eyes or select angles. This provides coaches and players with the unprecedented opportunity to reexamine the game from different angles after it’s been played out.

For instance, on a specific play, the coach can show a missed opportunity by taking the player to that same moment of the game and displaying the scene exactly as he would’ve seen it then.

The opportunities are unprecedented. Here again, players can go through their performance again and again in order to spot out bad habits and areas of improvement without physically exerting themselves. Moreover, they can relive the experience through the eyes of a teammate or opposing players and learn from them. Imagine being able to see the game through the eyes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi.

There are other fields where the limits of the body are conquered by virtual reality. For instance in real estate, customers no longer need to physically move to the location of houses they want to see. Thanks to virtual reality, in a single day, you’ll be able to walk through houses that are geographically thousands of miles apart.

We’re really still at the beginning of the age of virtual and augmented reality, technologies that might be the next computing platform, and there’s a lot of potential and possibilities that have yet to be discovered. What is for sure though is that now, the mind can move beyond the body’s shell and experience things that were impossible before

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