By Elton Gomes
Former coach of the Indian cricket team Anil Kumble’s technology start-up Spektacom Technologies on Thursday launched the “Power Bat”. The initiative is a unique tool powered by Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform and its Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) services.
Spektacom Technologies has already experimented with the concept in the Tamil Nadu Premier League in a limited capacity. The company is now ready to scale up through broadcast partner Star Sports. Spektacom and Microsoft roped in Star India to be the broadcasting partner so that fans and viewers can have a new way to engage with the sport.
“Our vision is to bring sports closer to fans through interesting ways of engagement using real-time sports analytics. At the same time, it is important that the technologies used are seamless and do not disrupt the game or obstruct the players,” Anil Kumble said, IANS reported.
He added, “With Microsoft, we have been able to create a secure and effective solution, and with Star India, we have a partner that can stimulate and excite fan engagement.”
Peggy Johnson, executive vice president at Microsoft said in a statement, “We’re excited to be a part of the work Spektacom and Star India are doing to enhance the cricket experience for fans, players and coaches.”
“We’ve already seen the impact that connected devices have had in other industries, and we believe that with the advancements in our AI and cloud services, this is just the beginning of what’s possible for not only cricket, but all sports,” Johnson said further.
What is the Power Bat?
The Power Bat is a unique cricket bat that has a lightweight, Azure Sphere-powered sticker stuck on its shoulder. Once the batsman hits the ball, data from different parameters (speed, twist, and quality of the shot) are captured in a new unit of measurement called Power Speks.
Data gathered from the sticker-chip will be fed into a stump box. It will then be captured and processed using Microsoft’s Azure Sphere. The broadcaster can then use the processed data for real-time match analysis. The player can also use the data to improve his stats.
The data will help in analysing shots and also in breaking them down into measurable parameters such as quality (of the shot), swing (of the bat), power, and twist. For instance, the Power Bat will help batsmen gain an estimate of how often they hit the ball from the “sweet spot”.
The quality of the shot is calculated in percentages, the speed of bat in kilometres per hour (kmph), and the power while the twist happens in degrees.
The price of the Power Bat has not yet been revealed, though Kumble said it will be affordable. He added that the technology will provide players, coaches, commentators, fans, and viewers with a unique way to engage with cricket and help improve their game.
Reports have mentioned that charging the Power Bat takes 90 minutes. Kumble said that it has wireless charging support and it lasts two days on a single charge. “We haven’t come to the amateur level yet I am someone who wants to reach out to everybody. It will be affordable. We still haven’t figured out the price yet,” Kumble said, NDTV reported.
Star India Managing Director Sanjay Gupta said to the Hindu,“Power Bat promises to be another step in the same direction, and we look forward to the partnership with Anil Kumble and Microsoft in bringing it to our broadcasts.”
How AI is transforming sports
Artificial intelligence is rapidly being used in almost every sector today. AI’s limitless capabilities make it indispensable for the future. Besides transforming sport, AI is also ushering a new era of sports journalism.
To increase its coverage of games in Minor League Baseball (MLB), the Associated Press (AP) has been working with Automated Insights, a North Carolina-based startup. The company developed Wordsmith, an AI-driven platform that translates hard data from the MLB into narratives, using natural language. Due to this initiative, AP is able to cover 13 leagues and 142 MLB-affiliated teams.
Computer vision, machine learning, and other forms of AI have begun using algorithms to analyze player statistics, game videos, and data from various sensors. This is proving to be a big help in identifying talent. Since the algorithms comb through data far faster than humans can, they are able to provide an in-depth information on more players than previously possible.
Professional baseball, basketball, and hockey are gradually incorporating AI to aid coaching and scouting and with Kumble’s Power Bat, AI could be making in-roads in cricket as well.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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