On a windy, mid-April morning, members of the Villanova University baseball team gathered inside Falvey Memorial Library – in a small, first-floor corner space – for batting practice, 2018 style, writes Frank Fitzpatrick for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
There were no real bats or balls. Instead, the players wore virtual-reality headsets and stood in the batter’s box of a 3D ballpark that had been projected onto the library walls.
This virtual batting practice setup is called The Cave, which stands for cave automatic virtual environment. It’s not meant to enhance a hitter’s contact or swing. It was devised to help players develop pitch and location recognition. It’s the creation of Mark Jupina, a baseball-loving assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Villanova.
“This has been an intersection of all my different interests and skills,” said Jupina. “I played high school and Legion ball and coached my sons over the years. Here, I worked with (Wildcats coach Kevin Mulvey) to get a better understanding of what he and his players would like to see in terms of training aspects.”
Through the use of sensors, infrared cameras, a projector, software and MLB analytics, Jupina can reproduce any pitch by any big-league pitcher and even augment its speed.
Read more about the Villanova baseball team’s use of virtual reality in The Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.