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Virtual reality has been used to help land a person on the moon and to instruct astronauts on how to manipulate the space arm. The military uses virtual environments to prepare soldiers for combat and airlines use virtual reality simulators to train and qualify pilots. Increasingly, game manufacturers are utilizing virtual environments and haptic devices to capture the attention of their adherents. However, many questions remain to be answered. How does one define virtual reality and virtual environments? How can virtual reality environments and simulations be used effectively in sport and wellness situations? Will coaches, athletes, and wellness specialists utilize the tools? What has been accomplished so far and what promises have been made? Do the benefits justify the costs? The reality maybe short of the promise, but can the gap be closed – virtually? This paper explores the promise of virtual reality, the nature of virtual reality environments, examples of existing applications, and a discussion of the research to date. It also provides a vision for the future.
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International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
Larry Katz, James Parker, Hugh Tyreman, Gail Kopp, Richard Levy, Ernie Chang
Sport Technology Research Laboratory,
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary
Virtual reality has been used to help land a person on the moon and to instruct
astronauts on how to manipulate the space arm. The military uses virtual
environments to prepare soldiers for combat and airlines use virtual reality
simulators to train and qualify pilots. Increasingly, game manufacturers are
utilizing virtual environments and haptic devices to capture the attention of their
adherents. However, many questions remain to be answered. How does one
define virtual reality and virtual environments? How can virtual reality
environments and simulations be used effectively in sport and wellness
situations? Will coaches, athletes, and wellness specialists utilize the tools? What
has been accomplished so far and what promises have been made? Do the
benefits justify the costs? The reality maybe short of the promise, but can the gap
be closed – virtually? This paper explores the promise of virtual reality, the
nature of virtual reality environments, examples of existing applications, and a
discussion of the research to date. It also provides a vision for the future.
The phrase “virtual reality” (VR) conjures up many different visions depending on ones
background and experience. Defining the term is difficult as there are hundreds of versions.
Using the Metacrawler search engine ( the first “hit” was identified
with three other search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves) and describes VR as
“An interactive computer-generated simulated environment with which users can interact
using specialized peripherals such as data gloves and head-mounted computer-graphic
Webopedia ( defines VR as:
“An artificial environment created with computer hardware and software, and presented to
the user in such a way that it appears and feels like a real environment. To "enter" a virtual
reality, a user dons special gloves, earphones, and goggles, all of which receive their input
from the computer system. In this way, at least three of the five senses are controlled by the
computer. In addition to feeding sensory input to the user, the devices also monitor the user's
actions. The goggles, for example, track how the eyes move and respond accordingly by
sending new video input. … The term virtual reality is sometimes used more generally to
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
refer to any virtual world represented in a computer, even if it's just a text-based or graphical
According to Chen, Toh, and Fauzy (2004), VR is “Cutting-Edge Technology that allows the
learner to step through the computer screen into a three-dimensional interactive environment
either immersive or non immersive” (p. 147).
In essence, people who develop VR systems are using technology to create environments that
allow the user to actively participate and navigate in events or worlds that engage the mind
and body, whether emulating real worlds or defining imaginary worlds. The degree to which
the senses are engaged (e.g., whether 3D or 2D, immersive or non immersive, surround sound
or no sound) is directly related to the considerations of design, costs of development, costs of
equipment, and the imagination of the user (see Figure 1).
The big players in the VR business are the military, airline industry, space agencies, and
game manufacturers.
Figure 1. Four screen and one screen 3D virtual environments at the University of Calgary.
The first three groups are heavily involved in VR because of the high costs of making
mistakes in the “real world.” Good simulations allow military personnel, pilots, and
astronauts to learn skills, study the impact of their errors, and learn good decision-making
strategies. On the other hand, game manufacturers see great potential in creating
environments that engage the minds and money of their target markets. Ironically, the game
industry may be the most relevant with respect to the use of technology in sport and wellness
because the “volume-to-cost” ratio could make the technology more accessible to coaches,
athletes, and therapists.
This paper is concerned with the potential for VR as a vehicle for coaching, training, fitness,
and rehabilitation. The critical factors are the availability of the technology, the effectiveness
of the resources, and the willingness of coaches, athletes, and therapists to use them.
As a coaching and training tool, VR can allow one to watch, repeat, emulate, deviate, and
speculate. Prior to the development of video technology, athletes watched their coaches
perform the task; then they attempted to emulate the action. After success or variations of
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
failure, the athlete would receive feedback from the coach. With the use of video, it became
possible to capture the action and review it repeatedly while receiving extensive feedback. As
computer technology advanced and biomechanical analysis became possible, the process
became even more sophisticated. This process has expanded, and learning and decision-
making, especially at the elite athlete level, can now involve massive amounts of data from a
variety of sources such as video motion capture, pressure sensors, and positioning systems.
New tools are available which would enable coaches to create Virtual Environments for skill
acquisition, training, fitness and rehabilitation. The next logical step would be to construct
VR environments that allow the athlete to vary situations and strategies, including the use of
sound, and see the impact of their actions in “real-time.” Very few sophisticated VR systems
exist in the area of sport and wellness, and those that are being developed are primarily
limited to research laboratories. The question is “What is the potential?”
The Promise
The ultimate promise of VR is to create an environment such as envisioned on the TV series
Star Trek where the “Holodeck” is so sophisticated that one cannot tell the difference
between reality and the virtual environment. Learner-centered Effective Virtual
Environments (EVE) can provide experiences that would engage, provoke, cause reflection,
challenge conceptions, develop skills, and change the way people understand themselves and
their environment. Properly designed, these EVE’s could enhance learning through applying
the concept of “Flow - the psychology of optimal experience” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1982).
According to Csikszentmihalyi (1982), Flow is a state of concentration so focused that it
amounts to absolute absorption in an activity. Anyone watching a child fully engaged in a
video game would understand this concept (see Figure 2). Such VR or effective virtual
environments have the potential to significantly impact performance, but there are major
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
Figure 2. Children engaged in a two person interactive video game using a Nintendo “Power Pad” haptic device.
The Power Pad haptic device was designed to allow children to play video games and
exercise at the same time (see Figure 2). Those who played the game were excited, but only a
few game modules were designed for the unit. It never did “catch on,” and the Power Pad
was discontinued after only a few years ( It is still unclear what
went wrong with the Power Pad, but knowing this could help future designers avoid the same
The Challenge
In order to develop successful virtual environments, there are five main questions to address:
1. What are the hardware and operating system needs?
2. How do you design effective virtual environments?
3. Can VR environments improve performance in sport and wellness?
4. Are VR environments in sport and wellness cost effective?
5. Will coaches, athletes and rehabilitation specialist use the VR technology?
What are the hardware and operating system needs?
According to Kondruk (2005) from the hardware and operating system perspective, it must be
possible to deliver the ultimate in interactive, cost effective tools in order to support
innovation, collaboration, discovery in visualization, and VR. This requires sophisticated
architecture, including multiprocessor systems, 3D texturing and shading, volume rendering,
dynamic video resolution, extreme scaling, sophisticated speakers, haptic interfaces, wireless
and “networkable” capability, and the capacity to manage individual as well as multi-user
Creating effective virtual environments requires collaboration amongst engineers and
scientists from an array of fields including manufacturing, media, and operating system
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
development. Issues such as geographical distribution of data, accessibility, and data security
also need to be addressed. Grid computing (the use of multiple high-end machines working
together from potentially, widely ranging locations) can help with the distributed workload,
but bandwidth constraints are still a problem, as is high performance online storage of data.
Researchers are also demanding real-time remote collaboration. Kondruk (2005) further
suggests that real-time processing will require multi-dimensional, multi-attribute, as well as
spatial and nonspatial data fusion. To do this successfully, it may be necessary to reengineer
existing data management strategies. Of course, over time, the problems seem to get more
How do you design effective virtual environments?
Creating environments that are indistinguishable from the real world and/or creating
environments that allow the users to experience prebuilt worlds and visualize three-
dimensional representations of a problem, are amongst the most complex design endeavors.
Some factors that influence software design for VR environments include: understanding the
user perspective; appropriately applying the enabling technologies (e.g., audio, haptic
devices); and, facilitating the vision of the designer. Systems need to be developed that
engage the user/learner, facilitate the user/learner's opportunities to be effective in solving the
problem, and create an environment where the user/learner can be efficient in achieving the
objectives. Not only must the system be responsive to input from the user, but also the space
in which the activity is performed requires manipulation. All these activities are happening in
real time and need to be interactive. The actions can be independent or multiplayer,
collaborative or competitive (between the user and the system and/or between the user and
other users) and may be independent of time or distance. In all cases, the user enters the
situation (VR environment) and must be provided with the contextual factors (e.g., physical
environment, social cues, tools) to function effectively.
In order to teach new skill related tasks such as those in sports, it may be necessary to "layer
the complexity" of the problem through problem identification, problem representation, and
proper manipulation of space. This layering of the problem complexity has been applied to
the creation of VR skill-training environments at the Canadian Space Agency (Kopp, 2000).
Understanding the perspective of participants in VR environments and game simulations is a
crucial consideration for enhancing the user experience. Sweetser and Johnson (2005) studied
five areas of importance: consistency, intuitiveness, freedom of expression, level of
immersion, and the physics of the environment as they relate to game type preference and
game-playing experience. For example, they state that: "… interactions with the game
environment and objects in the game environment should be intuitive and meet player
expectations. People who are less experienced game players can be baffled by the physics of
the game world and often need to relearn how to interact with the world like a child." (p.
Self-control of the learning situation also appears to influence both attitude and performance
of the user (Bund & Wiemeyer, 2004). Using table tennis videos of skilled professionals and
allowing athletes to have control of practice scheduling for viewing of the videos, Bund and
Wiemeyer (2004) showed that participants had higher self-efficacy scores and improved
movement over yoked controls.
Wages, Grunvogel and Grutzmacher (2004) argue that realism and believability may not be
positively correlated, and that striving for higher realism results in more technical problems
and potentially greater awareness by the user of the artificiality of the environment.
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
Frames of reference are important in terms of the physical dimensions (e.g., size and
location), psychological perspectives (e.g., walking in another person's shoes), and self-
monitoring (e.g., see ourselves as others see us). For example, at the Canadian Space Agency,
astronauts' performances can be recorded as they manipulate the space arm. The astronauts
can then go into the virtual environment and observe their performance as though they were a
third person monitoring the activity. Alternatively, virtual reality with the use of haptic
devices, can allow a participant to replay, observe, and even experience the performance of
another person such as an expert.
Enabling technologies such as haptic devices are supposed to create a feeling of touch, sight,
or movement (Salisbury, Brock, Massie, Swarup, & Zilles, 1995). They provide basic
impacts, pushes, and pulls that are associated with object manipulation, and this must happen
with realistic force. Sliding a coffee cup across a table should require about 300 g of force,
not 10 or 5000. It is this sense that allows the remote manipulation of objects. Presently, a lot
of work is being conducted in the area of remote control surgery (Sutherland, 2005) and,
without a very accurate sense of the forces being applied, the results could be catastrophic.
The other aspect of haptic devices is touch and texture. Most people can slide a finger across
a surface and obtain useful information such as smoothness, bumpiness, or stickiness. Touch
is used for many control tasks including grasping and catching.
In general, texture is more difficult to replicate than force, and requires devices of greater
complexity. Touch transmitters are often placed in gloves worn by users that impart multiple,
small touch sensations to the hands. Touch can be enhanced by sound; for example, a
suctioning noise during surgery may have a characteristic sound that hearing it, together with
“feeling” the pressure, may impart vital information to the surgeon.
Audio, another enabling technology, is a critical aspect of the emotional impact of most
environments but is frequently neglected in the development of games and virtual
environments (Parker, 2005). Sound is a key indicator of motion, activity, and affective
content. A fundamental aspect of sound is that one can both hear and feel it, especially at
very low frequencies.
Computer games and virtual reality systems use sound for three basic things:
1. Music, which provides a great deal of emotional content.
2. Sound effects, including ambient sound (e.g., car crashes, audience reactions,
running water, surf, wind, skate blades on ice).
3. Speech. Many games tell a story by allowing one to listen to conversations, or
even participate in them. However, there are problems with speech recognition
and speech understanding that need to be addressed.
In general, sounds reflect the environment (e.g., echoes are expected in large buildings but
not in woods). Location is important, as sounds should appear to originate from particular
points in space, particularly if the source of the sound is visible. All of these characteristics of
sounds must be represented in virtual environments if they are to be convincing
representations of real ones. Unless a very large set of audio data is available, synthesis may
be the only way to display realistic sounds for VR purposes. In the real world, very few
events create exactly the same sound twice. Every bounce of a basketball sounds just a bit
different from the previous one, and the slapshot from the blue line in ice hockey has a sound
that varies depending on the stick, player, swing, ice temperature, and precise distance from
the net. Since the traditional way to use sound in a VR system is to play a recorded file, the
user quickly becomes familiar with the files that are available. Furthermore, they may not be
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
the correct sounds for the situation. Sound-based tracking technology that is robust and
inexpensive is needed for sports environments (Ishii, Wisneski, Orbanes, Chun, & Paradiso,
1999). Correct positional audio is essential to provide accurate audio feedback. Most real
sounds appear to have a specific source and, in some cases, this can be critical for decision-
making. For example, when playing a game, it may be important to identify accurately
sources of “yells” in order to receive passes or avoid collisions.
Other enabling technologies such as gesture recognition (using two or more cameras to track
body position in 3D), eye tracking, and voice recognition have been used with varying
degrees of success.
The designer has to be able to visualize abstract concepts including: dynamic relationships in
the system; visualize and quantify multiple viewpoints in the environment; understand the
interactions with potential events that may be unavailable or impractical due to distance,
time, or safety; and, organize all the related objects. For example, trees and rocks, which are
obstacles to motion in a skiing simulation, can be manipulated and have an effect on other
objects in the virtual world.
Examples of graphic environments that apply some of these principles include Distributed
Interactive Virtual Environments (DIVE) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing
Games (MMORPG). DIVE is an internet-based multi-user VR system where participants
navigate in 3D space and see, meet, and interact with other users and applications. The first
DIVE version appeared in 1991 ( MMORPG’s are massive multiplayer
online role-playing games. In a MMORPG, thousands of players are able to play in an
evolving virtual world simultaneously over the Internet (
The users are represented within this environment by a graphical entity (their avatar), they
can manipulate objects though the avatar, and they can communicate with other participants.
Interactive scripting for nonplayer characters are referred to as mobile objects (MOBS) and
there are even aspects of artificial intelligence with players and environments (e.g., calling for
help). These systems operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with some games having over
20 million players with multiple languages and cultures. The systems allow for teamwork,
problem solving, and the development of friendships. Many players invest considerable effort
in creating avatars and their actions. Their identities are symbolized by their avatar. The
simulated, or virtual, environment is represented in 3D with high quality positional sound,
and players must keep track of multiple factors in real time. Both MMORPG and DIVE
programs have found wide international followings. Ironically, in the World of Warcraft
MMORPG, a recent, mysterious, unplanned, program-induced plague accidentally caused
many thousands of the virtual players to die (Strohmeyer, 2005).
Some of the design principles from these programs are applicable to sport and fitness oriented
VR programs even though design considerations in sport are potentially more complex.
When working with athletes, the geometry of the graphical presentation must be accurate.
Many times a judgment is made based on the apparent speed and relative position of the user.
For instance, in a baseball simulation the velocity of the ball must not appear to change after
the pitch is made. In addition, the trajectory must be realistic. In order for these things to be
true, there must be an accurate model of the physics of the real world underlying the graphics
Can VR environments improve performance in sport and wellness?
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
Ijsselsteijn, de Kort, Westerink, de Jager and Bonants (2004) used exercise bikes in a virtual
home video computer environment to demonstrate the impact of the immersion level and the
advice of a virtual coach. The researchers were interested in participant motivation,
biofeedback (heart rate and velocity), and the sense of presence or immersion (i.e., of being
in the environment). Results indicated that: "…a more immersive environment in which the
user feels present heightens the fun the user is having, and thus has a beneficial effect on the
user's motivation. In the highly immersive environment, where the presence experience was
stronger, participants reported more interest and enjoyment, more perceived competence and
control and … they cycled faster!" (p. 56). While the virtual coach seemed to lower perceived
pressure and tension, the virtual coach did not influence cycling speed.
Comparing virtual handball throwers with real handball throwers, Bideau, Kulpa, Ménardais,
Fradet, Multon, Delamarche, and Arnaldi B. (2003) and Bideau, Multon, Kulpa, Fradet, and
Arnaldi (2004) found that goalkeepers react similarly to both types of throwers. The motions
of the real throwers were captured in order to create avatars for the virtual environment.
Goalkeeper gestures were consistent with both throwers. The researchers concluded that the
virtual environment offered sufficient realism to elicit natural gestures, and there was a high
level of interest in further participation by the goalkeepers.
Over 500 people participated in a virtual swimming interface created by Fels, Yohanan,
Takahashi, Kinoshita, Funahashi, Takama, and Tzu-Pei Chen (2005). The authors suspended
participants by harnesses in the air using pulleys and swimming apparatus (headgear) with
computer controlled visuals and sound. Issues of user size, experience, and swimmer control
revolved around the fidelity of the environment and the "one-size-fits-all" harness. Since the
program was part of an open exhibit, the roles of the audiences were also addressed. Almost
all participants enjoyed the experience and were able to "swim" using simple strokes or by
simply floating.
Yang and Jounghyun Kim (2002) created a virtual reality motion training system that
produced a first-person viewpoint "ghost" martial arts trainer that the trainee could follow as
closely as possible in order to learn a motion sequence. The graphic ghost master was
superimposed onto the user's body so that it appeared that he was emerging from it thus,
giving the user a first-person or egocentric view. To achieve this effect, a head-mounted
display was required. The trainee then emulated the movements of the master. Technical
issues with regard to the speed of movement, degree of freedom, and impact of the head-
mounted display were discussed. However, results suggested that the participants in the VR
environment followed the motions at least as well as those learning in a real environment and,
in some cases, better, especially in the X, Z axis.
Virtual reality games have been designed to provide interactions in various environments
such as snowboarding ( These programs can build a
player's range of motion, balance, mobility, stepping, and ambulation skills. You, Jang, Kim,
Hallett, Ahn, Kwon, Kim, and Lee (2005) used some of these virtual games with stroke
patients to see if the patients could improve motor recovery. The preliminary results with 10
stroke patients were very promising with significant recovery of locomotor functioning when
compared to control patients.
At the Sport Technology Research Laboratory at the University of Calgary, the authors have
experimented with virtual environments using 2D versus 3D images, interactivity with small
screen versus large screens, and visualization as a means of preparing athletes for competition
(Morey Sorrentino, Levy, Katz, & Peng, 2005). The results, like those of the studies
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
described above, are promising, but fidelity and equipment issues are still being addressed
and sample sizes remain relatively small. Further investigations need to be undertaken before
firm conclusions can be reached.
Are VR environments in sport and wellness cost effective?
Virtual reality is here to stay. Simple systems already exist and experienced consumers at a
games arcade can attest to the sophistication of many of the interactive systems that test their
ability to fight, dance, or snowboard. However, these systems are limited with regard to their
potential impact on sport and wellness. Developing specialized systems that can make a
meaningful difference in performance or enhancement of skills is still very expensive,
especially if intricate haptic devices are required, and so, researchers continue to apply for
grants to explore their visions and theories. Finding that elusive, revolutionary application for
virtual reality in sport and wellness is key. Until then, costs will still be prohibitive for
practical purposes.
Will coaches, athletes and rehabilitation specialist use the VR technology?
Developments in digital technology makes it possible for coaches and athletes to gather
information efficiently and effectively, analyze and integrate it, and apply resources in order
to improve teaching and training. As technology evolves, it offers new and creative
applications. However, in order for technological innovations to be used by coaches, the latter
need the technological background and appropriate attitude towards technology. In many
cases, however, there is a wide gap between changes and innovations that technology brings
and the human capacity to adapt to it (Katz, 2001).
Today, computer-based technology influences many sport-related areas such as equipment
design, performance evaluation, game statistics, measurements, and computerized training.
While coaches report using computer tools such as word processors and the Internet, few
report actively using technology that has been specially designed to enhance the training
experience (Liebermann, Katz, & Morey Sorrentino, 2005). The adoption and
implementation of an innovation is a multifaceted process that is affected by many factors. A
complex interaction of social, economic, organizational, and individual factors can influence
the adoption of a technology, as well as the way a technology is used after adoption (Park,
Raz-Liebermann (2005) studied the impact of a new coaching tool introduced to veteran
coaches in a series of workshops. All the coaches reported being highly impressed by the
technology and its ease-of-use, and almost all of them indicated that they would use the
software (which was provided gratis to each participant) as part of their coaching routine.
However, when the researcher followed up with the coaches months later, only a few of the
coaches had used the program. Raz-Liebermann (2005) analyzed the factors influencing the
intention to adopt a technology and identified self-efficacy, previous experience with
technology, and personal and professional innovativeness as key factors. Interestingly, the
more experienced coaches were less likely to consider adopting new technological
Thus, it would appear that even if sophisticated VR systems were developed and shown to be
effective and cost efficient, persuading coaches, athletes, and rehabilitation specialists to use
the systems may require a concerted effort.
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
The Vision
For human performance in sports and wellness, the vision is to create environments that are
so compelling, enjoyable, transparent, and easy to engage others, that athletes at all levels
will use them to improve their skills and participation in sports. Moreover, exercise and
fitness will increase in the general community, resulting in higher levels of population
wellness, with benefits in health, productivity, and the economy.
Figure 3 provides a visual representation of the program envisioned by the authors. In order
to be successful, the program requires commitment from academic, industrial and
sport/performance resources funded through the private sector, and government agencies. If
effective, these initiatives should generate major business opportunities.
Figure 3. An integrated program for VR in Sport and Wellness.
The technology exists to create innovative 3D environments and preliminary research shows
that EVE’s are highly effective. While developing truly immersive experiences requires
expensive, highly trained, multidisciplinary professionals with sophisticated equipment,
ultimately the technology will be accessible, cost effective, and readily available to end-users.
The idea is to create artificial realities in which rendering, perception, immersion, presence,
feedback, visualization, and interaction with others are combined to give the user experiences
that approximate and go beyond what is physically possible.
The vision has two major objectives:
1. Development of enabling technologies – hardware and software necessary to
create representative, realistic virtual environments.
2. Creation of applications to accelerate learning, training, and ultimately,
performance through use of collaborative virtual environments.
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
Research Goals
The research goals of the authors are to develop collaborative virtual worlds, explore virtual
worlds in sport, fitness and rehabilitation, and study their effectiveness. These worlds would
provide adaptive feedback and have scalability for many skill levels. Skills learned in these
environments would be transferable to real-life situations and could be distributable over
distance. Interactions and learning could be individual or collaborative (see Figure 4). The
specific areas of interest include mental preparation, decision-training, improved reaction
time, performance enhancement, and rehabilitation.
Final Thoughts
The technology required to create effective virtual environments is complex and requires
distinct methods for each human sense. Most systems employ graphics for the visual sense
and audio for the sense of hearing. Haptic or touch technology is less well advanced, and
research into systems for emulating smell, even less so. It appears that no attempt has yet
been made to represent taste. Balance and proprioception are important considerations in
sports, rehabilitation, and fitness. Unfortunately, issues such as motion sickness and
disorientation have still not been successfully addressed, and research and development in
these areas lags behind the vision. Simple, effective virtual environments exist and can be
developed for commercial and educational benefit, but elaborate, multidimensional systems
are still either imaginary or restricted to elite users and researchers. Design considerations are
extensive and costs for the more elaborate environments remain prohibitive. Yet, the
technology offers the opportunity to individualize learning, apply cutting-edge learning
principles, maximize performance, mimic intricate patterns, and create realistic and
convincing environments that can be collaborative and interactive. For the moment, the
commercial arena has been left to the users who are prepared to pay for “suspect” thrills such
as hunting ( and virtual video games. Ultimately, the users will decide
what survives.
Figure 4. Research Goals for Effective Virtual Environments.
International Journal of Computer Science in Sport – Volume 4/Edition 1
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... These studies point out that virtual reality does not always contribute to the transfer of the trained skill to reality [8,9]. In addition, the virtual environment does not always have a full presence effect [10,11]; for example, in the VR environment, it is quite difficult to organize the training of skills related to contact with other athletes or team player skills [12]. ...
... Nevertheless, a special type of shot, characteristic only of professionals, was identified. That is, it was the detailed comparative analysis of the indicators obtained using the three-dimensional space that allowed us to determine the differences between professional goalkeepers and novices [11]. In general, Tyreman suggests that three-dimensional VR can be useful in improving reaction times, anticipation times, or strategies [50]. ...
... Katz and Tyreman with colleagues suggest that virtual environments, despite all their complexity and cost, have incredible potential to change the way coaches and athletes approach training and results. The future development of VR systems will include many aspects of monitoring, management and coaching [11]. ...
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There is little research on the study of specific characteristics that contribute to the faster adaptation of athletes during the transition from one sport to another. We used virtual reality (VR) to study the differences between professional ice hockey players and other sport professionals (freestyle wrestlers), who were novices in hockey in terms of motor responses and efficiency performance, on different levels of difficulty. In the VR environment, four levels of difficulty (four blocks) were simulated, depended on the speed of the puck and the distance to it (Bl1-60-80 km/h and 18 m; Bl2-60-100 km/h, distances 12 and 18 m; Bl3-speeds up to 170 km/h and 6, 12, and 18 m; Bl4-the pucks are presented in a series of two (in sequence with a 1 s interval)). The results of the study showed that the hockey professionals proved to have more stable movement patterns of the knee and hip joints. They also made fewer head movements as a response to stimuli during all runs (0.66 vs. 1.25, p = 0.043). Thus, working out on these parameters can contribute to the faster adaptation of wrestlers in developing professional ice hockey skills.
... For instance, literature has reported contradictory results on tennis players performance in comparing 2D and 3D stimuli, probably due to the different technology used to achieve 3D vision. While 3D stimuli might induce faster responses as well as higher accuracy with respect to 2D stimuli by recreating real sport situations, thus providing salient motion-in-depth information to the participant (Bideau et al., 2010;Craig, 2013;Katz et al., 2006), no performance improvement in intercepting an opponent tennis serve direction under weak and strong 3D conditions has also been reported (S. Liu et al., 2017). ...
Stimulus identification and action outcome understanding for a rapid and accurate response selection, play a fundamental role in racquet sports. Here, we investigated the neurodynamics of visual anticipation in tennis manipulating the postural and kinematic information associated with the body of opponents by means of a spatial occlusion protocol. Event Related Potentials (ERPs) were evaluated in two groups of professional tennis players (N = 37) with different levels of expertise, while they observed pictures of opponents and predicted the landing position as fast and accurately as possible. The observed action was manipulated by deleting different body districts of the opponent (legs, ball, racket and arm, trunk). Full body image (no occlusion) was used as control condition. The worst accuracy and the slowest response time were observed in the occlusion of trunk and ball. The former was associated with a reduced amplitude of the ERP components likely linked to body processing (the N1 in the right hemisphere) and visual-motor integration awareness (the pP1), as well as with an increase of the late frontal negativity (the pN2), possibly reflecting an effort by the insula to recover and/or complete the most correct sensory-motor representation. In both occlusions, a decrease in the pP2 may reflect an impairment of decisional processes upon action execution following sensory evidence accumulation. Enhanced amplitude of the P3 and the pN2 components were found in more experienced players, suggesting a greater allocation of resources in the process connecting sensory encoding and response execution, and sensory-motor representation.
... Unlike original training methods, XR technologies offer the possibility for learners to directly capture and repeatedly review movements in immersive training environments and not necessarily have to rely on an outsider's perspective. Thus, the use of XR technologies for training optimization in the field of competitive sports is becoming more and more widespread [6]. ...
Conference Paper
In impact sports such as golf, a specific stance and motion of the club can make decisive differences in the performance of players. The provision of feedback to learners in order to improve such a motion execution is crucial for their own performance development. Video recordings have been used to provide visual feedback to promote motor learning, but usually are shown with a time lag from the learner's own motion execution. With the help of new technologies such as Extended Reality (XR), learners are able to receive visual feedback during motion execution for real-time analyses via head-mounted displays. Consequently, a new real-time feedback method using XR to optimize the golf putt was developed and subsequently tested by participants of the 16th EATEL Summer School on Technology Enhanced Learning 2022. Feedback was obtained from users on the XR golf putt trainer, which will be addressed and analyzed in this article for further adaptations of the system to strengthen it for future application. The training method was developed and implemented, particularly under the aspect of improving psychomotor learning within the framework of the MILKI-PSY project.
... Nevertheless, VR technology has become increasingly popular with the advent of inexpensive consumer-grade VR headsets for gaming and entertainment in recent years [4]. Nowadays, it can be seen that VR has been extensively applied in a great variety of fields such as game [5][6][7], sport [8][9][10], film [11,12], education [13], and construction [14] and brings great commercial value to soci-ety. Therefore, research into the application of VR technology is very promising in the future. ...
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As computer science and information technology develop rapidly, virtual reality (VR) technology has evolved from theory to application. As a key technology in modern society, VR technology is increasingly influencing more and more aspects of people’s daily lives, including sports training. VR technology can be seen as an assistive technology that provides specific support for athletes’ sports training through various means such as simulating training scenarios and conducting data analysis. This paper focuses on exploring the application of VR technology in football training and the combination of sports training and VR technology. In addition, a feasibility analysis of the application of VR technology in football is carried out, and software such as Poser 8.0, 3ds MAX, and EON Studio in the virtual football training system are introduced. The aim is to further provide theoretical support for the development and research of virtual football sports system software and to study virtual systems that are not disturbed by external natural conditions. It will break through the limitations of sports training due to factors such as weather, player injuries, lack of training space, and funding. This is conducive to improving teaching and training methods, promoting the mastery of technical movement essentials and the improvement of football skills.
... With the help of newer technologies that enable training in immersive environments, athletes can even be provided with visual feedback during motion execution for real-time corrections in motor learning [1]. Consequently, real-time visual feedback can improve motion perception and accelerate learning [7]. The study concept presented here aims to investigate the effectiveness of real-time visual feedback, implemented with the help of an immersive training environment, for optimizing a sport-specific motor task, i.e., the squat. ...
Conference Paper
Motor learning is particularly favored by the provision of feedback on the learner's actions. The essential role of feedback is specifically evident in sports, where important components refer to learning and optimizing individual motion techniques and sequences. With the help of motion feedback, both athletes and novices can optimize and learn as well as internalize the correct motion execution in order to improve their sports performance in the long term. Due to innovative, immersive training environments, it is possible to provide humans with visual feedback via screens during motion execution for real-time corrections in motor learning. Accordingly, this paper presents a study design for the use of real-time visual feedback in an immersive environment that aims to enable subjects to optimize their performance of a motor task. This concept is elaborated and implemented particularly under the aspect of improving psychomotor learning within the framework of the MILKI-PSY project.
Conference Paper
The Infusion of virtual reality equipment into the sports and gaming industries has extraordinarily upgraded users' result encounters and outcome experiences on the loose. Virtual reality technology and its equipment are largely used by various sports and gaming industries. Virtual reality equipment creates an environment that permits users and participants to engage in this learning environment rather than passive spectators effectively. Virtual reality equipment permits users to experience and explore conceivable learning outcomes. VR equipment has created an environment that allows users to learn and train to become specialists in that particular field of gaming and sports activity. It helps evaluate the performance and analyze the results of the particular participant. This paper centers on the potential outcomes of using virtual reality equipment in the sports and gaming environment and investigates in giving potential possible recommendations for enhancing virtual learning and training tasks in the sports and gaming environment to create a wholesome experience for users at large.
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Traditional Sports and Games (TSG) are as varied as human cultures. Preserving knowledge of these practices is essential as they are an expression of intangible cultural heritage as emphasized by UNESCO (General Conference of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, at its 25th session, 1989). With the increasing development of virtual reconstructions in the domain of Cultural Heritage, and thank to advances in the production and 3D animation of virtual humans, interactive simulations and experiences of these activities have emerged to preserve this intangible heritage. We propose a methodological approach to design an immersive reconstitution of a TSG in Virtual Reality, with a formalization of the elements involved in such a reconstitution and we illustrate this approach with the example of real tennis. Real tennis is a racket sport that has been played for centuries and is considered the ancestor of tennis. It was a very popular sport in Europe during the Renaissance period, practiced by every layer of the society. It is still practiced today in few courts in world, especially in France, United Kingdom, Australia and USA. It has been listed in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in France since 2012.
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The use of increasingly advancing information technologies (IT) in sports has reached a high level in the past few decades and has enabled obtaining data that are more valid, reliable and timely. Inertial sensors are used to gather information on athletes' movement, speed, acceleration and distance covered, and cameras that use light detection to calculate the 3D position of markers are used to capture and analyse movement and are considered a "gold standard" in this field. Wearable devices detect and analyse data against internal or external parameters they monitor, so physiological parameters such as heart rate, muscle oxidation level and body temperature can be monitored in real time, on a smartwatch or a phone. Virtual reality is used in training processes of athletes, most often during psychological and tactical preparations, as well as in learning and practicing of movements. Coaches and athletes are thus able to receive accurate data in real time outside the laboratory conditions and plan and adjust the training process accordingly. The goal of this paper is creating an overview of the most important information technologies used in modelling of training processes. Keywords: Athletes, Training, Monitoring, ITs
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In this study, the attitude of experienced coaches towards technologies and sport sciences was assessed. A questionnaire was used to evaluate three areas: (1) Attitudes towards technology and sport science in coaching, (2) Technology and scientific knowledge in practice, and (3) Perceived importance of technology and science in enhancing sport results. A group of 27 highly experienced coaches completed the questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of three parts, starting with demographic information, followed by a series of 27 questions with answers on a Likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree, and finally, coaches were requested to rank 14 well-defined 'coaching goals' from 1 (most important) to 14 (least important). Results showed that top-level coaches rated having a good relationship with the athletes' as a major goal. Overall, members of this group of experienced coaches seem to recognize the general importance of sport sciences, and appear to be positive about the use of sport technologies, but do not necessarily translate these positive attitudes into actual practice within their competitive sport environments, even when they all use information technology for other activities. According to these results, sport science researchers and technology developers need to adapt their strategies. Coaching education should encourage coaches to incorporate technologies as part of their coaching routines. Developing innovative resources and incorporating them in coaching education, as is done in some countries, may be a starting point. However, placing the emphasis on educating successful coaches on the practical use of technology and scientific knowledge is suggested as a short-term goal. This may allow for a more immediate effect on the attitude and practice of less senior coaches that tend to adopt methods and training routines through following the personal example provided by top-level coaches.
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Visualization is a known preparation tool for athletic competition. This study used a virtual environment of the Salt Lake City Olympic Oval as a tool to support visualization to help athletes prepare for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Five long-track speed skaters from the Canadian Olympic Team used the virtual environment with their sport psychology consultant to prepare for the Olympics prior to leaving for Salt Lake City. All five skaters had previously visited the competition venue and found the virtual environment to be very realistic. In addition, skaters commented that they had struggled with visualization and, consequently, they thought that having the virtual venue provided for them was very useful. After using the environment, athletes indicated that they felt less anxious about going to the Olympics. Experiencing the virtual environment allowed them to focus on their race, how they would prepare for the race, their race plan, and what they would think about while competing in the race. The results of this study promote the use of virtual environments for enhancing athlete visualization. Moreover, the study identifies four ways in which virtual environments can be used by athletes in preparation for competition, as well as part of their regular training program.
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Abstract The present study examines,wether self-controlled practice enhances motor learning and self-efficacy beliefs more when,it refers to an,aspect of the learning situation which is preferred by the,learner than to an aspect which is not. Participants (N = 52) practiced the forhand top spin stroke in table tennis and were randomly,assigned to one,of four groups. Two groups of learners (self-control) were given the option to control either a preferred practice condition (e.g., schedule of video instruction) or a non-preferred prac- tice condition (e.g., variability of practice), whereas another two groups (yoked) had no influence on these practice schedules. While no group differences were found during the practice phase, both self-control groups showed learning benefits regarding the movement form on a delayed retention test. Moreover, self-control participants reported significantly higher self-efficacy beliefs than yoked participants. The results suggest that the effectiveness of self-controlled practice is independent of the learner‘s preferen- ces regarding the practice situation. Future research should include cognitive and moti- vational variables in order to explain the learning advantages of self-controlled practice schedules. Key words:
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The current paper describes research that is aimed to elucidate our understanding of technology factors that may help users of home exercise equipment to stay motivated for doing regular work-outs. In particular, we investigated the effects of immersion and coaching by a virtual agent on intrinsic motivation and the sense of presence of participants cycling on a stationary home exercise bike. A basic two-by-two within-subjects experimental design was employed whereby participants were presented with a virtual racetrack with two levels of immersion (high vs. low) and two levels of a virtual coach (with vs. without). Results indicate a clear positive effect of immersion on both motivation and presence. The virtual coach significantly lowered the perceived control and pressure/tension dimensions of intrinsic motivation, but did not affect the enjoyment dimension. The presence of the virtual coach also reduced negative effects associated with VEs.
For a number of years, we have heard that computers, or information technologies, are going to change higher education – the way we teach and the way our students will learn. But most of us have seen little evidence to support the claim. In fact, faculty utilization of innovative technologies has remained low (Surry and Land, 2000). In the 1997 National Survey of Information Technology in Higher Education in the United States, Green (1997, in Houseman, 1997) reports that only 12.2% of the institutions surveyed recognize information technology in the career path of faculty. Thus, to accomplish the optimal use of information technology (Web-Assisted Instruction (WAI) in this study), an analysis of the factors affecting the WAI use should be conducted. A number of studies have been performed to identify factors affecting the likelihood of adoption of instructional technology in educational setting. Most of the studies have been based their theoretical foundation on Roger’s adoption/ diffusion model. However, they have mostly reported the influencing factors based on the regression-based approach, not focusing on the interactional relationship among the factors. Recently, there have been a few models developed and empirically studied to find out the interactional effects of variable on innovation usage. Among those models, the three models (Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), and Technology Acceptance Model (TAM)) seem to be of importance and related to the present study. Based on the results of these models and other studies, this study developed and tested a study model, which included seven adoption predictors in terms of three perspectives and a criterion variable as the followings; (1) personal characteristics (Computer Experience & Selfefficacy); (2) perceived attributes of innovation (Complexity & Relative Advantage); and (3) perception of influence and support from the environment (Subjective Norm, Supports, & Time); lastly, (4) the criterion variable, level of WAI use (LoWU). With those identified variables the present study will be performed to build a model that will predict the level of adoption and utilization with regard to instructional technology use by university faculty members. To accomplish the purpose, the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) including Confirmatory Factor Analysis was employed to test the hypothesized study model for the determination of faculty members’ WAI use. The result showed that a study model as described produced measurement and structural models with adequate model fits. In addition, five factors, computer experience, subjective norm, self-efficacy, relative advantage, and complexity, were identified in the analysis as the important predictors of LoWU. Interestingly, while relative advantage and subjective norm were significant in direct effect on LoWU, computer experience, self-efficacy, and complexity showed only indirect effects significant towards LoWU. Supports and Time showed no significant effect. However, ironically qualitative data revealed that most faculty members perceived lack of support and time as barriers for their successful participation in using WAI technology in their instruction. The research provides a base to build on for other studies, specifically targeting acceptance models of web-related instructional technology use. The research can also add to the expanding base of research investigating technology adoption models outside higher education.
Conference Paper
We created an exhibit based on a new locomotion interface for swimming in a virtual reality ocean environment as part of our Swimming Across the Pacific art project. In our exhibit we suspend the swimmer using a hand gliding and leg harness with pulleys and ropes in an 8ft-cubic swimming apparatus. The virtual reality ocean world has sky, sea waves, splashes, ocean floor and an avatar representing the swimmer who wears a tracked head- mounted display so he can watch himself swim. The audience sees the swimmer hanging in the apparatus overlaid on a video projection of his ocean swimming avatar. The avatar mimics the real swimmer's movements sensed by eight magnetic position trackers attached to the swimmer. Over 500 people tried swimming and thousands watched during two exhibitions. We report our observations of swimmers and audiences engaged in and enjoying the experience leading us to identify design strategies for interactive exhibitions.