STRIVR tries to tackle the realm of football simulation with realistic video that can help micro-analyze a player’s behavior in practice or on the field. Using this kind of technology, players can boost training time without the physical setbacks that come with overexertion.

MiHiepa, a Manchester-based startup, hopes to do something similar with its new soccer simulator.

MiHiepa focuses on training decision-making skills and reaction times but is also an important tool in rehabilitation after injury. Much like its American football counterpart, MiHiepa hopes that keeping players in the mindset of the game, recreating its physics and conditions, will help improve gameplay.

Technology and Basic Setup

MiHiepa uses a setup very familiar to any Vive user but is experimenting currently with the Vive Pro. The company utilizes 4 trackers that are placed around the legs and found clever ways to hide them and make the simulation feel real. Trackers are attached to player’s boots and shinpads, making the scenario feel very natural and familiar.

A custom-built PC powers the device, but server infrastructure is the real backbone of this kind of data collection. MiHiepa is collecting a benchmark of a player’s performance, micro-analyzing many facets of how they interact with the device.

Credit: MiHiepa

If this sounds pretty similar to STRIVR, you probably won’t be surprised to learn it’s catching on with some of the biggest names in the beautiful game.

Training with Manchester United

Man U is the first club to use MiHiepa, and they dove in wholeheartedly. The club will utilize the simulation at every level of play, including the Under-23s that are often mined for talent. Club owners see an advantage here: if players can face the same practice as the pros then coaches can quickly figure out who has the right mindset for the game.

The device establishes a baseline you can use to make a comparison between players. Even keepers. Imagine a detailed spreadsheet that can conclusively tell a coach what a player lacks or excels at and you begin to see the strength of MiHiepa.

Using replays, coaches can also work on specific fundamentals with specific players. If your striker isn’t very good at penalty shots, or at decision making outside of breakaways, then coaches have more ways to run through those scenarios. Like in American football, there is only so much practice time available to any given player. Devices like MiHiepa would help improve time spent running through these important drills.

Plus, the device offers a realistic simulation without the motion sickness.

VR Benefits

Players learn a lot in a detailed simulation, but the simulation has to be good to begin with. MiHiepa has worked hard to ensure that there isn’t lag between kicking the ball and the way it responds in the virtual world. Unlike American football, which features a bit less ball play, soccer relies on being able to thread a ball through very tight spaces with precision. How a player moves his foot will adjust the trajectory of the ball, and the Vive’s 2.0 trackers do an excellent job providing that feedback.

Players also learn certain setups and plays based on the simulation, which can be programmed to fit almost any scenario in soccer. This is great for working out anxiety kinks, improving response times and generally helping to improve a player’s fundamentals.

Injured players also get more time in practice without overexertion when they use MiHiepa. The simulation can also help those same players to safely work out their bodies in a limited capacity, working on the skills that drive their game without putting full effort or power into their training.

Final Thoughts

MiHiepa hopes to do for soccer what STRIVR is trying to do for American football, and it looks to be succeeding in early testing. Recent demos showed off what’s possible using the HTC Vive Pro with 2.0 trackers, which provide unprecedented tracking of legs and feet.

Soccer is one of the biggest sports in the world, with a great deal of money and thought going into how to play it better. If MiHiepa succeeds, it’s a victory for VR too. The more people understand the power of VR at professional play, the higher the demand for it at all levels.

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