Virtual reality training programme to make rugby players perform more Efficiently

Thursday, October 15, 2009

WASHINGTON - A new virtual reality training programme created at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, could help rugby players to perform efficiently and improve their chances of success.

Team members from Ulster Rugby have been working with researchers in the School of Psychology at Queen’s on a range of virtual training scenarios that test expert players’ perceptual skills.

According to Dr Cathy Craig, lead researcher in the project, “Immersing players in an interactive virtual reality provides an exciting new way of exploring and understanding human behaviour.”

“The advantages of this technology are that unlike playing a video game on a normal desktop computer, the rugby player or athlete is totally immersed in a realistic simulated environment,” she said.

“By presenting stereoscopic images in a head mounted display and tracking head movements, the user’s viewpoint is automatically updated, giving a 360 degree virtual experience. This means that the user becomes totally absorbed in their virtual environment encouraging them to interact as they would in the real world,” she added.

The players are fitted with a ‘backpack’ of sensors and don a helmet-like visor known as a head mounted display through which a series of 360-degree virtual scenarios are displayed.

“Our research is concerned with identifying the key events that influence decisions made by players on the pitch,” said PhD student Gareth Watson from Queen’s, who was also involved in the project.

“By controlling the events presented to the players, we can see how the visual information available to the participants at any moment in time influences the player’s decision about when and how to act,” he added.

According to Jeremy Davidson, Forwards’ Coach with Ulster Rugby, “Working alongside the researchers in Psychology at Queen’s has provided us with a very useful visual coaching tool that can be used to develop a player’s peripheral vision.”

“This is a vital aspect of a player’s game and we are looking forward to it improving decision making for our players in a real match setting,” he said. (ANI)

Filed under: Technology, virtual reality

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