VR Week: In American football, VR will reinvent the film room


“What we wanted to do was identify a way to teach and train athletes – we never set out to be a virtual reality company,” EON Sports VR CEO and co-founder Brendan Reilly says.

That’s not exactly what you expect to hear when you’re talking to one of the minds behind SideKiq QB, EON Sports VR’s virtual reality (VR) software for training American football quarterbacks. But, perhaps it takes individuals that aren’t mired in the minutiae of VR, but rather simply driven to improve athletics training, to spur real change.

Reilly co-founded the Kansas City-based firm in 2013 after working with University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self training student athletes on the practice court. Today, he and his team of engineers are advised by storied football coach and quarterback trainer Terry Shae as well as MD-and-Ph.D.-holding medical and neuroscience advisors.

“We became a virtual reality company once we learned that’s the best to teach and train not just athletes, but anybody – people who are pilots, surgeons,” Reilly says. “It’s simulated learning, [and we’re] incorporating that as a piece of the regimen within the training process.”

To date, EON Sports VR has convinced three teams in the MLB (the firm has a hitting app, too), collegiate organizations like the Big Ten Conference and even the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers to adopt its technology. And, the benefits have shown through almost instantly, Reilly says.

So, how does it work, exactly?

EON Sports VR
A student tries SideKiq QB using an early Oculus Rift

The future of practice is painless and in your pocket

SideKiq QB is, essentially, a football playbook simulator that translates football plays into three-dimensional simulations – as if the player were on the practice field with his fellow teammates. First developed using high-end VR headsets, like the Oculus Rift, the app is now available on iPhone and Android coupled with almost any compatible headset.

(I’m told that the firm is waiting on whether to bring the software to Samsung Gear VR, though its baseball hitting app is available on the platform.)

A typical quarterback training scenario using SideKiq QB goes a little like this. The coach or coordinator uploads plays into the quarterback’s SideKiq QB app using the computer-generated playbook configurator known as the SideKiq Game Engine. (See how it looks from inside the headset below.)