Ravens to use 'mixed reality,' holographic players to prepare during season

It wasn't too long ago when virtual reality was considered a new technology that NFL teams were just beginning to use to prepare their players. Now, countless teams have turned to virtual reality as a way to get reps without stepping onto the field.

The Ravens are ready to take it a step further. 

As the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Barker detailed in a story on Monday, the Ravens signed a one-year deal with Mixed River, a tech startup that provides "mixed reality" technology, which features holographic players. In his story, Barker compared it to "entering a life-size Madden video game." According to Barker, Ravens can not only watch holographic opponents -- like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown -- they can also observe simulated players execute plays straight out of their playbook.

I'll let him explain how it works:

Rather than use practice or game film, Mixed River provides simulations. Players wearing Microsoft HoloLens headsets can not only observe formations but move and respond to their holographic counterparts, such as Roethlisberger, on a real-life practice field or gymnasium, at game speed.

"It took me into a different type of reality," said NFL free agent Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil

"There were pre-snap motions, [holographic] guys were moving across the field," he added. "I just felt like I had to line up and play football."

Here's why it's important beyond just the Ravens: player safety. If the NFL can figure out a way to eliminate most forms of contact on the practice field, they can also eliminate practice injuries, which are uncommon but still do happen. Obviously this wouldn't singlehandedly solve the issue of player safety or eliminate the inherently violent nature of the game, which is on display every Sunday, but it could help eliminate unnecessary contact in practice.

Plus, this elite technology sounds awesome. We now live in a world where Joe Flacco can watch a simulated version of himself throw interceptions. 

Actually, that doesn't sound very elite.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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