Vizzario Brings Vision Metrics To Esports For Player Evaluation

Riot Games is holding its second annual scouting combine for League of Legends Championship Series later this month in Los Angeles followed by its first player draft. That process will include training and practice before a round-robin tournament, but a startup vision technology company is hoping to introduce new objective measures into the realm of esports player evaluations.

Vizzario, which launched in 2014 and has received funding from insurance giant VSP Global, has developed a sensory data-exchange platform that measures human interaction with computer stimuli, which is then processed through machine learning and computer vision algorithms to monitor and predict one’s visual function. Its software development kit (SDK) can be integrated into any interactive experience — including esports — to track performance passively while not altering gameplay. (Vizzario recently agreed to a partnership with a major esports athlete, whose identity it cannot yet disclose.)

Vizzario’s signature metric is its Vision Performance Index, VPI, which measures one’s overall visual function based on five components (and 11 sub-components): field of view (central and peripheral), accuracy (targeting and reaction time), multi-tracking (focus and divided attention), endurance (fatigue and recovery) and detection (color, contrast and acuity) — FAMED, by its acronym. 

“It lends for a lot of discovery,” Vizzario’s founder and CEO, Dr. Khizer Khaderi, told SportTechie. “You can start taking the VPI score and you can start marrying it with in-game statistics to get a more multi-dimensional view of each player.”

A sample VPI

A front-facing camera can record eye movements to provide additional information, though that is not needed to compute a VPI.

In time, as sufficient data is collected, certain baseline visual profiles will emerge for elite esports performers. That might help steer competitors into the best opportunities to succeed. It’s possible, for instance, that each of the five roles on League of Legends could require different visual attributes; perhaps a player has been shoehorned into the wrong role — or even the wrong game — based on his or her skill set.

Current evaluations of esports players are generally relegated to in-game statistics only, “and it doesn’t really explain what are the potential nuances that separate certain athletes from others,” Khaderi said. Much like the NFL combine has a 40-yard dash and a shuttle run, so too might esports combines have different events breaking down skills.

“The ecosystem in general is very interested in being able to learn more about their players, learn more about ways of helping their players, optimizing the players in terms of their abilities, giving them the potential tools for training and also optimizing their health,” he said.

Vizzario can track vision performance during esports such as League of Legends. (Riot Games)

Khaderi is an ophthalmologist by training who founded the Sports Vision Lab at the University of California-Davis and served as the director of neuro-ophthalmology at the UC Davis Eye Center. He holds five patents, serves as a medical advisor to Magic Leap and previously consulted for the Chicago White Sox, Boston Celtics and San Francisco 49ers. A baseball simulation game he devised helped improve on-field performance.

Vizzario currently has relationships with the military as well as technology companies working in mobile, augmented reality, entertainment and consumer health and wellness. On that last front, this collection of data has especially far-reaching ramifications; Vizzario is collaborating with researchers from Duke and Stanford.

The inherent nature of esports requires logging long durations of time in front of screens, an activity that can cause visual eye strain, dry eye, light sensitivity and headaches. The info gleaned from Vizzario’s software can help guide the answer to questions such as the optimal length of training and when players might need to rest their eyes. Some of this can be extrapolated to other sports: How soon before a game should an athlete turn off his or her phone? Could early-game struggles be vision-related?

As of a 2014 study Khaderi cited while giving a talk at TiEcon (a technology entrepreneurship conference), the U.S. ranked sixth in the world in digital media consumption, with an average of 7.5 hours on a device. He’s hoping the democratization of technology away from labs and clinical settings to homes can produce helpful results, asking, “How we can leverage the problem, which is technology, to actually find a solution?”

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