Baseball gaming simulators like MLB: The Show try to recreate the excitement and challenge of professional baseball, but these hardly improve your actual athletic skills. To that end, one sports VR company is using the latest advancements in virtual reality technology to combine the fun and challenge of a game simulator with realistic graphics and effective batting practice. Plus, it’s got former MLB slugger Jason Giambi going to bat for it.
I recently spoke with Giambi, a five-time All-Star and MVP, who has partnered with EON Sports to launch Project OPS, a virtual reality software for mobile devices that helps Little Leaguers and amateurs visualize the strike zone and recognize different types of pitches. The app purports to improve the user’s “OPS”: a hitter’s statistical ability to hit for both contact and power.
Giambi made a name for himself as a home run-hitting juggernaut for the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics, but, as described by the New York Times, his true batting skills came from his “uncanny ability to recognize” and predict pitches based on a pitcher’s throwing motion. If a pitch deviated from his mental strike zone, he remained “as still as a statue.”
So when EON Sports CEO Brendan Reilly, whom I also spoke, first showed Giambi test footage of a virtual reality pitcher, he immediately recognized its unique potential to train pros and kids alike in improving their strike zone awareness.
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