From VR, wearables to…radars

Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world. Let’s start with some numbers:

Today there are more than 46M Americans who play volleyball. Worldwide, it is estimated that there are over 800M people who play volleyball at least once a week.

Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting technologies currently used in the world of volleyball:

  1. Wearables:

There are several wearables currently used in the world of volleyball to monitor the performance of players, and help prevent injuries. Motus Global is a key player there. It built the motusVB which uses two small Motus sensors to give a wealth of usable, actionable data in real time. Coaches and players can instantaneously know jump height, spike speed, and much more, all in a small, comfortable form factor that won’t slow anyone down.

The motusVB system is currently being used by some of the top volleyball programs in the nation, including the nationally ranked women’s and men’s teams from Penn State. This testing is giving Motus invaluable insights to help every player and coach at any level – club, high school, college, and international – improve their game through the power of data.

Picture: Motus Global

Another interesting wearable device used in the world of volleyball is Vert. VERT tracks and shares real-time stats during practice and events wirelessly, and also measures vertical height, average height, highest vertical and total jumps during a Volleyball game. Several volleyball teams are using Vert today such as the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team,

Here is a video that explains how it works:

Video: Vert

  1. Biomechanics technology and motion capture:

Biomechanics technology, coupled with motion capture, is another type of technologies used in the world of volleyball. for example, the University of Northern Colorado’s volleyball team is gaining insights on how to improve their off-season training programs with the assistance of three-dimensional motion-capture technology.

“We used equipment in our lab including motion-capture and force plates to capture how they’re moving,” said Otto Buchholz, a UNC Sport and Exercise Science doctoral student who works in the lab. “These special instruments, commonly used to develop video games and virtual reality, quantify the motions and forces while they’re jumping and landing; this technology we use in the lab, you see in Hollywood all the time.”

After the technology measures where their body positions are in the three-dimensional space, Buchholz, along with UNC Sport and Exercise Science students Shane Murphy and Nathan Robey, can then reconstruct them on a computer.

The equipment used to determine any potential improvements includes the Vicon Nexus software, 10 cameras and an AMTI force-sensing treadmill, all of which import movement and other data into a computer for analyses. The research team is currently in the final stages of understanding these outputs.

  1. Radars:

Radars are another technology that is currently used by many volleyball teams today. Pocket Radar, a key player in the space, built a radar gun which tracks serving and hitting speeds.

Video: Pocket Radar

Another key player in this space is Hawk-Eye. During Volleyball games, Hawk-Eye uses seven high-performance cameras located in strategic positions to track plays. It is used in top-tier volleyball events like the FIVB Volleyball World Championships, the World League and World Grand Prix.

Picture: Hawk-Eye camera

Haw-Eye has also managed the video officiating system at some of the games highest profile events through their SMART Replay technology. In addition, Hawk-Eye has developed a low cost live production service using SMART Production that means rights holders can maximize the exposure of their events across digital and broadcast channels.

Hawk-Eye even takes the serve and helps demonstrate the location and speed.

  1. VR training:

VR training is another emerging technology used in the world of volleyball. One of the examples of this is VolleySim, which is a virtual training product for Volleyball Players and Coaches in order to visualize specific decision making aspects of the game of volleyball. Our top priority is to ensure the accuracy of a training simulation to empower motivated athletes the ability to train no matter where they are. VolleySim will train athletes to help them improve their performance.

Video: VolleySim

Bottom line: Volleyball, like many other top sports, uses technologies (wearables, radars, VR..) to help improve the performance of players and even prevent injuries. it also helps improve the fans experience. In the future we expect new technologies (e.g. neurotech/biofeedback, smart clothing, AR, advanced computer vision..) to emerge and be adopted by many pro volleyball teams.