“We know how to make the human body bigger and stronger, but what about getting a competitive advantage in the brain?” Brendan Reilly asked.
Reilly is the founder and CEO of EON Sports, an athletic training software company (though he could arguably make it as a professional corporate tagline writer). The company, which has established virtual reality (VR) training simulations for high-school and college football coaches, is now expanding its VR repertory with a new project targeted at athletes.
EON Sports, which was founded in 2013 as a subdivision of VR software and hardware company EON Reality, launched a KickStarter campaign earlier this month for the latest installment in its SIDEKIQ training software collection. The program is billed on the company website as the “first-ever football simulator.”
Powered by a smartphone (which broadcasts the software program) and a VR headset (which splits the screen, expanding the breadth of viewpoints), the program allows athletes to interact with simulated in-game scenarios. It’s predicated on two major touchstones of athletic training: repetition and expert coaching.
“As an athlete, it's super important to be big, fast and strong. But if you don't know where to run [or] what to do, then you won't be a good player,” said Reilly. “This comes with experience, and the only way to gain experience is by getting exposure to repetitions. Our software is the only kind to give you real live repetitions at real live game speeds.”
The program has also incorporated the expertise of a cadre of current and former coaches, which Reilly contends is what prevents it from becoming a mere video game. NFL veterans Mike Ditka and Charlie Coiner, former NFL offensive coordinator Terry Shea, Private NFL QB coach Steve Clarkson, and former Trinity University head football coach Steve Mohr have contributed tips and guidance.
“Each coach puts his own spin on how to coach certain situations,” Reilly said. “I'd be surprised if a lot of youth players have access to NFL level coaching. So this takes someone like Ditka or Shea and it multiplies them and provides something really valuable for the athlete.”
With such prestigious support, though, why turn to crowdsourced funding, rather than, perhaps, a syndicate of angel investors? “We wanted the market to tell us what it wanted. In our mind, it's better to put it out there and see if it would be successful. If so, great. If not, then we can understand why and continue to refine our approach to provide something of value,” Reilly explained.
If funded, EON Sports plans to direct the money toward “collecting data of how the individual performs in the simulation,” according to Reilly.
He's mum on EON Sports’s future (the company is, as he put it, “in stealth mode”), but revealed its preparing to reach other athletic markets. His excitement, however, is transparent.
“It seems like a new hardware is popping up every day, which is great. We cannot wait to see where this industry is headed.”