The Strategy

As we forge ahead into more infrared-based interactive virtual reality experiences, we continue to look at ways to diversify our focuses and push the true potential of the technology. The integration of hand-held controllers continues to evolve with first-person game-play, allowing users unprecedented interactivity within 3D virtual environments. There is a natural fit with the hand-held HTC Vive controllers and gloves worn by soccer goalkeepers. Our idea began to take shape. Futbol is the most popular sport in the world and it continues to grow in popularity in the United States. Here in Dallas, we are witness to the on-field success and the meteoric rise in popularity of Major League Soccer’s, FC Dallas team. We began creating an experience that would be much larger in scope and potential scale but first, we needed to create a phase one pilot in order to test. To help FC Dallas capitalize on their momentum, we partnered to create this initial simulation. This cutting-edge, Virtual Reality Experience gives fans the chance to lace-up and become an FC Dallas Goalie!

The Experience

On October 8, 2016, at FC Dallas’ Meet the Team event, our team proudly debuted this industry-first virtual reality goalie simulation on the HTC Vive. Energy was high as the crowd eagerly awaited their turns in line to experience the game! Using industry-leading game development software, our team was able to create a fully immersive soccer arena of the future. This infrared-based interactive VR game puts the user in the first-person point of view of a goalkeeper. The game is controlled by the user’s physical movements (in real time) as they use their hands to try and block incoming shots from a virtual avatar, modeled after World Famous Soccer Player Lionel Messi. Players quickly moved and jumped as they try to win a penalty shootout for their team. Painstaking efforts were taken to mimic the real-life physics of soccer, including spin, trajectory, speed and gravity. Kids and parents weren’t the only ones in line to play. The biggest highlights of the event happened when FC Dallas’ owner, Dan Hunt, coach, Oscar Pareja, and the team’s goalkeeper, Chris Seitz, each took a turn in the experience. Seitz had the crowd excited and cheering loudly as he garnered a near-perfect score. With the hard work our team put toward this game, it was gratifying to see all of the smiling faces as our game was put to work.

The Future

This experience is part of a multi-phase program with FC Dallas, as we look to establish permanent VR Experiences at FC Dallas’ home field, Toyota Stadium. The vast and intricate 3D environment that we created provides many areas for branding and advertising for the team. As the experience scales, we are beginning R&D for acute hand-eye coordination training. Additionally, we are collaborating with organizations for disabled children and giving them the opportunity to step into the shoes of their soccer heroes. We continue to push our algorithms to new height ranges and integrate more physics into the interactive game-play. New sports and teams will spawn from this scalable, multi-phase experience!