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LSU creates a virtual reality 'in Tiger Stadium' for football training

4 months 1 week 6 days ago Wednesday, February 26 2020 Feb 26, 2020 February 26, 2020 2:37 PM February 26, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ
Image via LSU College of Engineering

BATON ROUGE- A virtual reality experience is in the works to recreate the atmosphere of LSU's Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night.

LSU's Digital Media Arts & Engineering and Kinesiology programs are working alongside faculty and LSU Football athletic training staff to create a virtual environment that allows athletes to develop their skills in a game-like environment.

“In the virtual environment, the user will be in Tiger Stadium with a full crowd and full crowd noise,” said Kelley Burger, kinesiology Ph.D. student and team lead on the project. “We hope to even have settings to mimic an 11 a.m. game with full daylight versus a 7 p.m. game with stadium lighting. We have been in constant communication with [LSU Football] on what they want the program to look like for their wide receivers, for their quarterbacks, for their linebackers, etc. This will not be some stock program. It will be very LSU-specific.

The idea began with creating a game for wide receivers, having a quarterback throw footballs at them in Tiger Stadium. The object of the game is to give receivers "a lot more looks at the football, even without a quarterback, equipment, or a facility."

The plan is to have something ready for the receivers by March so they can spend the rest of the semester improving upon the technology and enhancing the visuals.

Kelley Burger says she came up with the idea while working part-time in sports training. She recognized the difficulty in recreating game-like environments when working one-on-one with athletes outside of the gym or field. 

“Basically, everybody up to that point had been telling me it wasn’t feasible because the program I was thinking of making required skills way above what I learned during my master’s,” Burger said. “It was then when I decided, ‘Hey, every campus has computer programming students and experts, so let’s reach out to them.’ I contacted Marc Aubanel (director of the DMAE program) and he was the one that set me up with this group of grad students [in DMAE]. That is when all of the magic happened.

“By being able to create a whole virtual world, athletes could get more repetitions in and we could make these extra repetitions as meaningful as possible by taking the time to make it feel as real as possible.”

The tech team is rendering the stadium with photogrammetry techniques, taking existing pictures and videos of the stadium to use for measurements in the virtual world. They are also working to obtain 3D scans of a football, LSU’s uniforms and equipment, and one of the quarterbacks.

“[The team] will use photogrammetry to replicate all of these features exactly so the receiver will see exactly what he sees on gameday,” Burger said. “During the session with the quarterback, we took some recordings of his throwing motion in the biomechanics lab on campus, so [his] throwing mechanics will be replicated accurately in the game as well. Lastly, we are using a technology called Leap Motion that will be mounted onto the virtual reality headset and allow the user to see [his or her] own hands while playing.”

Within the next year, the group hopes to develop the project even further, adding other positions and other sports. 

The graduate student team working on this project includes Burger, Jeremy Alcanzare, Harrison Cunningham, Jason Genitty, Maggie Stovall, Blairre Perriatt, Roderick Wilkins, Dean Rhodies and Milad Khanlou. They are joined by Aubanel, Burkley, Dalecki and Kuznestsov. Additionally, the team has had the participation of LSU Football Athletic Training Staff members Jack Marucci, head athletic trainer; Derek Calvert, head football athletic trainer; and Nathan Lemoine, sports science research associate.

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