As a longtime executive in the technology industry, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is what some would call an early-adopter. So it's no surprise to see his face light up when asked about the Wizards' plans to use virtual reality, a system that he believes will revolutionize not only sports and how players are developed, but also training across other businesses.
Leonsis took some time to explain the new technology on Wednesday at the team's press conference to introduce their new practice facility in Southeast D.C.'s Ward 8. The complex will include a room dedicated to the cutting edge training method. That will help allow the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics to be the first in their respective leagues to use the system.
"You can't explain it until you put it on," he said. "I'm sure virtual reality is going to be the biggest change in training in business. When you read something, you retain 20 to 25 percent. When you read and hear something, 30 to 35 percent. When you read and hear and see, it's over 50 percent. When you interact, when you see, hear and read, it's like 70 percent. We think virtual reality is going to get you into the 90 percent potentially. So, imagine you're a rookie player and you've played one year of college ball and now you've come into a team and they give you a playbook. It's mind-blowing."
The Wizards are working with Stanford University where the program called STRIVR was developed. Associates from the school were in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with Leonsis and others about implementing the program for the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics.
He explained how the two sides are working together to get it installed.
"It is a really remarkable thing. It's a series of cameras like a tripod. It's like a dozen cameras that shoot a 360-degree view. You shoot it and then you send it digitally to Stanford University and they do their magic on it. Then they ship it back and it goes into this hard drive that loads into these oculus headsets."
Leonsis was given a demonstration recently and described being in different virtual situations. In one he was thrown an inbound pass at the top of the key with 15 seconds on the clock. In another he was on defense.
"It feels like it's in your face. The demos were remarkable, teaching someone how to draw a charge. You put it on and you've got it stop when you see the guy coming to take the layup," he said.
The Wizards are hoping to gain an edge with the technology that will put them ahead of the curve. According to STRIVR's website, they have already worked with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.
"Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys were the first team to do it," Leonsis said. "I was watching the game on Sunday night and the announcer said 'gosh, Tony Romo is seeing the field better than I've ever seen him play.' He put that on and said to Jerry Jones 'you gotta get this.'"
Reviews from those who have used it in professional and college football say it's a game-changer. Leonsis hopes his teams can enjoy the same impact in their respective leagues.
"I'm very, very excited about it," he said.