PITCHvr (US Patent 10,864,422 ), developed by Dr. Mark A. Jupina at Villanova University, provides players at the high school and college level — and eventually the major leagues — with the opportunity to take virtual batting practice, whether it be in a virtual reality CAVE environment, eventually on the ball field or in a training facility while wearing augmented reality headsets, or anywhere, via state-of-the-art virtual reality systems, which are equipped with a variety of tracking and sensing technologies. One product, PITCHvr Vision, provides perceptual image training for a hitter through the use of various visual assets, soundscapes, and haptic feedback so as to enhance a player's recognition of the strike zone, location of a pitch, and type of pitch. There are no limits as to how the training experience can be varied and analyzed. Eye trackers in the headsets provide analytics on the hitter's eye movements and a variety of sensing technologies are integrated into the system to evaluate a hitter's body and swing mechanics. Physically realistic pitch data sets from the high school level to the MLB level have been created through the use of the equations of motion which take into account the effects of gravity, drag, and spin (Magnus force) on the baseball. Any type of pitch by any pitcher can be accurately reproduced. The positions, velocities, accelerations, and spin axis orientations are accurately reproduced as a function of time. Pitching avatars with realistic mechanics (down to the finger positions ) have been created for the animations to provide the player with an experience as close as possible to the real world. The latest product, PITCHvr Hitter, provides swing capture, swing analytics, and projected batted ball paths. See more below on what types of training are possible.
WIRED Magazine - April 12, 2018
Philadelphia Inquirer - May 10, 2018
6ABC (WPVI-TV) - May 14, 2018
Global Sports Matters - September 10, 2018
SPORT TECHIE - November 8, 2018
Villanova University Press Release Update - March 5, 2019
NBC10 (WCAU-TV) - March 27, 2019
CBS3 (KYW-TV) - March 29, 2019
SBNATION, Pinstripe Alley - April 5, 2019
ASK Magazine, Get Your Game On - February 2021
Becoming a Champion by Ellen R. Braaf
“… the software (PITCHvr) would allow an immense amount of practice not possible in regular batting practice sessions … ” SBNation, April 2019
“We are interested in partnering with Villanova since Villanova cares about developing the science... ” A director of baseball research and development, one of the MLB teams
Through a partnership with Novation Tech LLC, PITCHvr Hitter software (created June 2020) was showcased at the American Baseball Coaches Association Meeting ( 2021 ABCA Convention Information ) from January 7th through the 9th. We would like to thank everyone who stopped by our virtual booth to learn more about what we will be bringing to the market this spring. We greatly enjoyed the conversations!
What separates us from the rest is the following:
The below video (01/03/2021) illustrates many of the new features in our hitter training tool on the Oculus Quest 2.
1. Max barrel velocity in MPH – measured 6 inches from the barrel end of the bat.
2. Max hand velocity in MPH – measured 6 inches from the knob end of the bat. Hot pink sphere on swing path denotes where this occurs in the swing.
3. Max rotational acceleration at the bat knob is measured in “g’s” and the time in seconds relative to bat swing launch when this occurs is also given. Neon green sphere on swing path denotes where this occurs in the swing path.
4. Time to Contact or Time to min separation between bat and ball is measured in seconds relative to bat launch.
5. The Descent Angle of the pitch path is given in degrees as the ball crosses home plate. The descent angle of a fastball can be as low as - 4 or -5 degrees whereas for a curveball, it can be something as high as -15 degrees.
6. The Bat Attack Angle (angle of ascent) of the bat swing path as it crosses home plate is measured in degrees. This attack or ascent angle should be ideally equal and opposite to the descent angle of the pitch.
7. The Time to On-Plane is measured in seconds relative to the bat swing launch. This time describes how quickly a player achieves the bat attack angle in his/her swing. In other words, how quickly does the player achieve an on-plane swing path.
8. The On-Plane Duration is measured in seconds and describes how long the swing path stays on plane. In other words, how long is the swing plane at the attack angle within the range of +/- 2.5 degrees.
9. The vertical bat angle is measured in degrees as the bat crosses home plate and describes the angle of the bat relative to the horizontal position of the bat (0 degrees). A completely vertical bat would have a bat angle of -90 degrees.
10. The Time to Connection is the amount of time in seconds relative to bat swing launch that it takes for the bat position to form a 90 degree angle (the ideal connection angle) with the player’s torso. The tilt of a player's torso is determined from the HMD’s orientation. For this measurement, a connection angle in the range of 80 to 100 degrees is used.
11. The Duration of Connection is the amount time in seconds that a connection angle between 80 and 100 degrees is achieved during the bat swing.
12. The Average Connection Angle is the angle in degrees between the bat and the player’s torso during the entire swing.
1. The Barrel Contact Point Velocity of the bat is measured in MPH.
2. Exit Velocity of the ball coming off of the bat is measured in MPH.
3. The Launch Angle of the ball coming off of the bat is measured in degrees. A positive value is for balls hit in an upward direction, and for balls hit in a downward direction, the angle is negative.
4. The Direction Angle of the batted ball is given in degrees. A ball hit up the middle has an angle value of 0 degrees, a ball hit down the third base line has a value of -45 degrees, and a ball hit down the first base line has a value of 45 degrees. Balls hit foul would have values either between 45 and 180 degrees or -45 and -180 degrees. A foul ball hit straight back has an angle value of +/-180 degrees.
5. Flight Distance of the batted ball in the air is measured in feet.
6. Hang Time of the batted ball in the air is measured in seconds.
An updated example of swing capture in the PITCHvr Hitter system using the Oculus Rift S system (original system created in June 2020 using an HTC Vive).
The HTC Vive Pro Eye system is used to measure the user's ability to track a pitch in the PITCHvr Vision App.
(Illustration of our initial prototype of gaze point capture using the HTC Vive Pro Eye headset in August of 2019)
Players need to focus on the pitch release point. The use of this asset trains the hitter to do just that!
You have heard all about effective velocity and tunneling of pitches. This semi-transparent asset helps trains the brain to differentiate between different types of pitches.
Speech recognition is employed to automatically score the hitter's performance.
A staircase adaptive training approach is implemented where the viewing time of the pitch after release is varied.
Speech recognition is employed to automatically score the hitter's performance.
A staircase adaptive training approach is implemented where the number and location of selected L Zones is varied.
A unique audio soundscape is created for each pitch to help guide the hitter’s eyes to track the virtual pitch.
A similar approach to the use of stroboscopic glasses is utilized. However, here only the ball disappears and not the background! Try determining the type of pitch with even less info for the brain. Not so easy!
Speech recognition is again employed in scoring performance along with staircase adaptive training approaches.
70 MPH Curveball Crossing Through L Zone 2
An 86 MPH Fastball Travels for 0.2 s and then Disappears before Reappearing at Home Plate
Epstein, David, IT'S ALL ABOUT ANTICIPATION, Sports Illustrated, August 08, 2011.
Lammfromm, R., and Gopher, D. (2011). Transfer of skill from a virtual reality trainer to real juggling. BIO Web Conf. 1, 00054 (2011). doi: 10.1051/bioconf/20110100054
You need to make the training experience look as natural as possible, so we employ pitching avatars with realistic pitching mechanics down to the finger positions on the different types of pitches (curves, slurves, sliders, change-ups, cutters, sinkers, two and four seamers).
Gray, Rob, Transfer of Training from Virtual to Real Baseball Batting, Frontiers in Psychology, 13 December 2017, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02183/full