Former Indian cricket skipper Anil Kumble’s sports technology startup Spektacom has announced the launch of ‘power bats’, an innovative sensor-powered sticker that measures the quality of a player’s shot by capturing data and analysing impact characteristics through wireless sensor technology and cloud analytics.
With the advent of professional franchisee-based leagues, cricket has seen a huge growth on a globe scale in terms of massive fan following and embracing technology in various aspects of the game including broadcast, training and performance assessment etc. With Power Bat, cricket has now joined the league of very few other sports that have equipments with the ability to provide live data in real time.
Tech giant Microsoft have teamed with Anil Kumble and his technology startup Spektacom Technologies, with support from broadcast partner Star India to announce the launch of the Power Bat – seen as a revolution in cricket for fan engagement and biomechanical analysis of batting technique and form.
The 48-year-old, who famously acquired the moniker ‘Jumbo’ for his fast deliveries and unusually large feet as observed by his teammates, has explained in a video how Power Bat is set to revolutionize the fan engagement in cricket with insights into the working of the technology.
“In a Spektacom Power bat, there is a small sensor sticker a size of a credit card and less than 5 grams in weight pasted behind the bat under. The sticker transfers data in real time with the help of Microsoft’s AI and machine learning including the speed of the bat in km/hr, quality of the hit (How close was it to the sweet spot?), magnitude of twist in the bat, atmospheric and pitch conditions etc.”
Microsoft has been working closely with Spektacom and its founder Anil Kumble, former Indian cricket team captain, to incubate and launch the product, as part of its ScaleUp program. Leading sports broadcaster Star India has used the technology successfully in recent series to provide real-time statistics and insights straight off the oval.
The Power Bat provides players, coaches, commentators, fans and viewers with a completely new and unique way to engage with the sport and help improve their game — all powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud platform using AI and machine learning.
The product can be charged wirelessly and also connects with Microsoft Cloud via bluetooth
“We have brought out the new unit of power called ‘Specks,’ which becomes a great tool for self assessment and improvement. You don’t need anyone looking at your shoulders or batting stance. The data can also be transmitted to the broadcaster during the live matches for enhanced fan engagement.”
“The form factor of the product was critically important. I wanted something that was non-intrusive and easily acceptable by the player. The sticker can be applied to any bat. Just an app needs to be downloaded and it starts talking to the bat. The sticker itself will store enough data to be later downloaded to the computer.”
The from the bat parameters are used to compute quality of the shot to help professional as well as amateur players, coaches and all stakeholders involved in the game to help improve a player’s performance with data-driven feedback. The data from the power bats is analyzed with powerful AI models developed in Microsoft Azure and transferred to the edge for continuous feedback to the player.
In the case of professional game, the sticker communicates using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) with an edge device called Stump box that is buried behind the wicket. The data from the stump box is transferred and analyzed in Azure and shot characteristics are provided to broadcasters in real-time. Given that cricket stadiums have wireless access restrictions and stringent security requirements, to ensure secure communication between bat, edge device and Azure, Stump Box has been powered by Microsoft Azure Sphere based hardware platform.
Amateur players can also pair up their bat Spektacom mobile app to transfer and analyze sticker data in Azure. The solution is powered by Azure Sphere (Stump box), Azure IoT Hub, Azure Event Hub, Azure Functions, Azure Cosmos DB and Azure ML 2.0.
Kumble has further revealed that the technology for other sports is currently under development and will be rolled out in future for sports like baseball, tennis, hockey and golf etc.