What it's like to feel a 100-mph fastball on impact

Thursday April 6th, 2017

VR Dream Match Baseball in its latest version enables the experience of what a 100 mph fastball feels like on impact.

Up to 15 different types of pitches—including something as detailed as the split-fingered fastball—are recreated in this experience from Tokyo-based production company AOI Pro. And when wearing an HTC Vive headset along with a mitt or holding a controller, the user is going to experience what the impact feels like.

“In order to create a more effective experience, the ‘Impact-equipped Mitt and Bat’ has been developed, which raises the touch-feedback in the mitt and bat from ‘vibration’ to ‘impact,'” according to AOI Pro, which plans to use the mitt and bat at exhibitions and has also opened a Silicon Valley office.

“Most users felt some sense of fear at the experience of catching the ‘1st pitch,’ and there were even some who said that their shoulder hurt when they missed the ball. The development team viewed this as being a key proof that ‘an experience in a VR space can move the heart.'”

The development of the mitt and bat incorporated haptics research findings from a research group at the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design assigned to the Embodied Media Project, which studies the creation of new physical experiences using technology. The project aims to create future media technologies that record, share, enhance, and design embodied experiences.

AOI Pro announced last September that the prototype of the experience had been launched based upon data from baseball games in Japan and the U.S. that was provided by Data Stadium Inc. to help simulate the rotation and trajectory of pitches. The plan was that in a few years, official data from baseball games would transform VR Dream Match Baseball into a real-time experience.

Bascule, a Japanese digital agency, had teamed up with AOI Pro to launch that prototype of VR Dream Match-Baseball, which has since been renamed VR Real Data Baseball.

For Embodied Media Project, it has also worked on helping users experience what other sports feel like through SMASH (Sympathy Media for Athlete and Spectator through Haptics), a system that provides real-time sports experiences. That includes what it feels like to take a shot in soccer, smash a ping pong ball and even experience the heartbeat of an athlete as the action unfolds on television.

More sports experiences that really do “move the heart” appear to be coming.

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