We spoke with Monsterful VR Founder and CEO Jarett Sims and discovered that the virtual reality baseball training simulator, RibeeVR, is being embraced by NCAA and MLB teams, as well as by serious training academies all over the United States. The company’s entertainment product, Play the Pros, is also a huge hit with baseball fans at the Detroit Tigers Comerica Park.
The virtual reality baseball training simulator, which was previously known as RBI-VR, now has a new name — RibeeVR. RibeeVR (pronounced Rib-e VR) is bringing technology and VR to the batter’s box and is elevating amateur and professional players to levels of training like they’ve never experienced before.
Batter’s that train using RibeeVR benefit from year-round practice as they get transported to a virtual baseball field and learn the pitching styles of the fastest professional and amateur pitchers in the game. Players who train with RibeeVR see improvements in the mechanics of their swing, pitch and release point recognition, and strike zone awareness; becoming the catalyst to faster reaction times.
Team Work Makes The Dream Work
Sims is a busy family man who’s just traveled to 3 different time zones with his Monsterful VR team in just a few days to meet with NCAA teams and Division I programs. He mentions that he looks forward to seeing how teams who are early adopters of RibeeVR will report back about training and competition.
Players like Sean Guilbe, a top prospect for the 2018 MLB Draft, have tested the baseball trainer with positive results. In a Baseball America article, the infielder shared his virtual batter’s experience, “There would be a pitcher up there and he just winds up and throws and the ball would come at you through the goggles. And then you would have to time it up and hit it. The amateur mode itself was pretty challenging and once they put it on superstar mode it was ridiculous. I mean I’ve seen some pretty good pitching and the pitching that that thing was throwing at me was crazy.”
Detroit Tigers hitting coach, Lloyd McClendon, has experience in setting the pitching and hitting bars pretty high from the get-go, naming Cory Kluber as “the toughest guy we face all year” with a pitch speed that’s clocked at 95 mph. Jeremy Booth, former Mariners scout, CEO of the Future Stars Series, and senior consultant to Program 15 also spent time in the RibeeVR sim, “I tested it and I faced Corey Kluber. (I hit a) loud fall ball,” he said, laughing. “Hadn’t had an at-bat in about 12 years. It was a loud foul ball. […] It was realistic, it was in a stadium, you could center, you could hear the crowd noise, you could see the release point, the delivery–everything was game-like. And it certainly felt like the reaction time of 95 (mph). It certainly felt like it.”
Assessing data like holding the grip on a bat differently, teaching the body how expect what’s being thrown at it without getting a strike, or to follow through with certain pitches helps coaches and their players make better, faster, and wiser decisions before a game starts and while on the field. Teams equipped with RibeeVR see and feel what it’s like to go face to face with a competing pitcher weeks before a game and make adjustments to their own mechanics, making VR the best tool to give athletes an advantage on game day.
In a SportTechie article, Jarett Sims spoke about the accuracy of the baseball mechanics and the tech, saying, “I wanted to make sure that what we did, we could optimize to the extent that there’s no perceptible latency and that the timing just feels real, in terms of swinging the bat,” and that “it was incredibly important that — since this is a preparation tool — pitchers have their accurate biomechanics. We’ve gotten loads of data that we’ve crunched in order to reproduce the different pitchers in the game.”
Forward-thinking coaches know that preparing for game day starts with mental preparation. Nothing prepares a batter more than swinging a super accurate and tech-enabled bat at virtual pitches being thrown at varying speeds and spin rates. When asked about how the baseball sim displays data for players and coaches, Sims explained that they can view that information from a coaches tablet and that a mobile companion app is in the works.
While speaking with Sims, we asked him about the type of headset that Monsterful VR uses and says that they are currently using the Vive, and that they are excited as a team for the release of the Vive Pro. The Monsterful VR CEO shared that each headset they use must have a wide field of view and that they stand behind technology that’s “pushing the envelope […] and skating where the puck will be, not where it is.”
Who Should Use RibeeVR?
Jarett Sims explained that amateur players, travel teams, baseball academies, straight to the draft players, as well as NCAA and professional MLB batters, will each benefit from next level virtual baseball training year round with RibeeVR.
RibeeVR helps batters and coaches make better gameplay decisions, but also helps scouts do their job too. The data that’s recorded is especially helpful in assisting scouts when they are comparing an amateur vying for a professional draft. They can objectively compare data that’s been taken across trials and make scouting decisions based on that information.
Play the Pros
Monsterful VR’s Play the Pros is a VR sports entertainment experience that Jarett Sims likens to the excitement he felt when he first played NBA Jam. As a former full stack developer and UI designer, Sims is especially thrilled for the exciting graphics that fire up the baseball bat when fans make contact with the ball and others you’ll have to step inside the batter’s box to experience.
The Detroit Tigers debuted the Play the Pros: Baseball experience for fans at Comerica Park in September 2017 and is available for installment at ballparks, stadiums, arenas, and other retail and entertainment locations. Stepping into the batters cage in Play the Pros is a great way to get young players interested in the sport and a way for fans to engage in the sport in a whole new way.
VR Fitness Potential
Sims shared his experience with Play the Pros: Baseball and compared it to getting a workout in the elliptical. He asks anyone to try hitting a 12-6 curveball against Clayton Kershaw for 20 to 30 minutes and not break a sweat. He says “we’ll see” when it comes to whether we’ll see a Play the Pros Basketball experience in the future.
Training in RibeeVR will give batter’s practice with the execution of their swing, timing a pitch, strike zone awareness, and other strategic skill sets. It will also help batter’s train against virtual pitchers so real ones won’t have to continuously throw pitches during practice, keeping pitchers from overworking or tiring out their arm and shoulders before a big game. Baseball hitters can step up to bat and practice thousands of times without having to step on the field.
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