Aufhauser is new NeuroTrainer CEO
Intel Sports executive David Aufhauser is leaving to become the first permanent CEO of NeuroTrainer, a San Francisco startup in the race to provide cognitive training tools for professional athletes through virtual reality.
Aufhauser had been Intel’s managing director of product experiences since November 2016, when the chipmaker giant acquired his prior employer, Voke VR. Aufhauser played top roles in Intel’s work in virtual reality, and more generally its Olympics sponsorship and media product relationships.
NeuroTrainer founder and chief scientist Jeff Nyquist said Aufhauser is a perfect fit for the company, which needs expertise and connections in Silicon Valley, the sports world and immersive media.
“Dave has 20 years of living at the intersection of those three points, and he’s been quite successful at each of those endeavors,” Nyquist said. “From the moment I met him, he checked the boxes for all the things we needed.”
While virtual reality has never met expectations as a means of fan sports consumption at scale, the industry remains optimistic about its potential in specialized training. In recent years, athlete cognitive training has emerged as a popular place for sports-industry minded investors and entrepreneurs.
NeuroTrainer’s software, which is available for the Oculus Quest VR headset, is designed to help athletes make critical decisions more quickly. It claims team clients in MLB, MLS, the NBA, NHL and power five NCAA conferences.
“One of the things that really piqued my interest was applications around the athlete,” Aufhauser said. “I spent my whole career around the fan, and how technology affects the fan, and I had the appetite to broaden my interests around the athlete.”
Before Voke, Aufhauser was a founding executive at the Pac-12 Networks’ digital business, was chief business officer at Justin.tv, which became Twitch, and also played a key role in building Yahoo! Sports.
Founded in 2018 and backed by M34 Venture Capital and a National Science Foundation grant, NeuroTrainer had been led until now by Jim Hornthal, chairman of M34. Nyquist said the company has kept a low profile until it was confident in its science and demand, and Aufhauser will lead a more aggressive push into the market.
Nyquist says his technology’s unique selling point is that it is realistic enough to generate high-quality data for users while not attempting to be a true game simulation, which has accuracy problems. Last year, NeuroTrainer says it was able to demonstrate a performance boost from its users in MLB, MLS and NCAA hockey.