All this month we’ve been dishing out tips for exercising your body in VR—but are you keeping your mind healthy as well?
Athletes will tell you that winning is as much mental preparation as physical, and that’s where REAKT Performance Trainer comes into play. A performance trainer built for VR, REAKT is designed to stimulate your reflexes and decision-making skills, and enables you to track your progress over time.
We sat down with REAKT's Jamie Moran to discuss double-handed dribbling, split-second decisions, and the science behind the neuroscience. Check it out below!
First things first: What is a performance trainer? How does it work?
Jamie Moran: The REAKT performance trainer leverages time-tested brain science to stimulate new neural pathways in the brain, amplifying and enhancing a competitor’s performance. By immersing competitors in visually rich environments and simultaneously presenting them with hand-eye coordination challenges, REAKT pushes the limits of improvements in key performance skills.
Why is it important for competitors to train their minds as well as their bodies? Do you have any examples of how REAKT might help in a real-world situation?
JM: Physical training can only take a competitor so far in their game. Top-tier performance requires split second decision-making skills and reaction times. The brain is the engine that drives the level of performance that sets good competitors apart from great competitors.
Improved reaction time and hand-eye coordination skills can positively impact everyday activities as well as in-game performance. Competitors often notice these types of improvements first when driving their cars or riding bicycles—activities that require quick processing of visual information and associated physical reactions.
REAKT is a performance trainer built for VR, but are there more traditional tools or drills that helped competitors train in this manner before? Or is REAKT a unique concept enabled by new technology?
JM: The top trainers are known for using creative-but-simple ways of stimulating the brain by changing the conditions of training. For example, basketball players will sometimes dribble a tennis ball in one hand and a basketball in the other. This simple task is designed to strengthen your hand-eye coordination and awareness in the same way that REAKT forces you to catch a ball in one hand while dodging a bomb.
REAKT takes it a step further though by providing you with actionable data after each session. That way, you know you’re progressing.
How did you come up with the idea for REAKT? What is your background?
JM: REAKT is the evolution of physical training tools like the type of reaction boards or electronic agility tools that are often used in sports. We saw an opportunity to leverage our experience in designing VR tools to create a powerful performance training tool that anyone can use to improve their game.
How did you devise the training exercises for REAKT?
JM: The inspiration for the training exercises in REAKT came from two sources. The visual concentration training leverages a well-known brain training technique called Multiple Object Tracking to stimulate key areas of the brain that enhance focus. The athletic awareness training was inspired by a fusion of video game dynamics and physical reaction training tools that require competitors to catch, touch, or grasp objects based on visual prompts.
What’s next for you? Any updates in the works?
JM: We see REAKT as an opportunity to learn how Oculus users receive the general concept of brain training. Will it be used primarily for existing VR users to improve their gameplay? Will athletes use it? Will people find new ways to use it that we haven’t even thought of yet?
We’re excited to connect with new users and look forward to seeing where this goes!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
JM: We’d love to hear your stories. If you have started training with REAKT and seen an improvement in your life, tell us!
We want to start telling the story of improving performance starting with training the mind in VR, and you can be central to that story. We’re here to help you #ReaktFaster, so find us on Instagram and Facebook at @reakttrainer.
Are you ready for those brain gains? REAKT launches on the Quest Platform today, and be sure to let us know how your fitness journey is going by taking a selfie after a hard day’s training and tagging @Oculus with #MoveForReal.