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Virtual Reality Helps U.S. Athletes Train to Win Olympic Gold

When U.S. Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won a Winter Olympics gold medal in the giant slalom race February 15, she also achieved a victory for virtual reality.

They attached a 360-degree camera to the helmet of one of the coaches and sent him down the course dozens of times, trying to find the same line that racers would ski two years later in the PyeongChang Games. STRIVR then stitched together the video and sped up the footage to match the speed of the fastest racers.

STRIVR then created a training regime in which the team’s skiers wear special headsets to get immersed in a 360-degree video that recreates every nuance of the Jeongseon course. Each trainee is liberated from the constraints of time and location. With a headset and a comfortable space, the user can train whenever and wherever they want.

  • As noted, Walmart works with STRIVR to help new employees learn what it’s like to work in a Walmart store. In addition to helping employees train for special events such as Black Friday, VR training helps them train for everyday situations such as inspecting products for quality control on the store floor. Using VR in 200 Walmart training centers makes the initial training more efficient before employees set foot in a real Walmart store.
  • United Rentals, which rents equipment such as backhoes used at construction sites, has worked with STRIVR to reduce training time for its salespeople by 40 percent. During training, employees visit a virtual construction site, where they learn how to quickly inspect the site and identify opportunities to sell its products — which means spotting little details that even a construction supervisor might overlook, such as a lack of backhoes or generators. For example, a hole in the ground filled with water could be an opportunity to rent a pump.

Athletes training for competition is basically the same as an employee at United Rentals training to work on a construction site. Consistent across all industries and use cases are a) time is limited b) there are body/fatigue/injury relates issues where too much real-life experience could be counterproductive c) there is a need to shorten the learning curve and teach people things faster d) there is a need to reduce the time spent training and the resources required. This applies across the board in sports, retail, construction, manufacturing, hospitality, healthcare and more.

He added, “We actually like going into Fortune 500 companies and telling them that by using VR they can train like an athlete. It resonates well and athletes are revered for their dedication to training. Employees enjoy the fact that they get to train with the same technology as their favorite football or basketball player. That goes a long way.”

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