Technology giant Microsoft Corporation and former cricketer Anil Kumble’s technology startup, Spektacom Technologies, along with broadcast partner Star India, announced the launch of a batting performance tracking device called Power Bat. The Power Bat provides players, coaches, commentators, fans and viewers with a unique way to engage with the sport and help improve their game powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud platform using AI and Internet of Things (IoT) services.
The Power Bat is a visiting-card sized, Microsoft Azure Sphere-powered sticker on the shoulder of the bat. In a live match, as soon as the batsman hits the ball, data on different parameters (speed on impact, twist on impact and quality of the shot -— percentage proximity of the ball’s contact to the sweet spot of the willow) is captured in a new unit of measurement titled Power Speks and communicated via a device on the stump (bot). Using advanced analytics and AI services on Azure, real-time insights are captured through the stump box and displayed via the broadcaster. During practice or coaching, the same data can be viewed through a mobile app without a stump bot.
“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,“ said Kumble. He added that apart from Star India (which already holds major cricket tournament broadcast licenses) Spektakom also hopes to rope in Fox Sports (Australia) to ensure maximum reach across the cricket viewer base.
Although the technology introduced by Spektacom has its first use case in cricket, the company will explore other use cases within and outside cricket in due course, Kumble said. The PowerBat technology debuted with Star Sports as a part of the IPL with the Power Shot Challenge that showed commentators the possibility of the technology. It was subsequently tested it at the Tamil Nadu Premier League. National/International players like Abhinav Mukund, Arun Karthik, Kaushik Gandhi used it during the entire TNPL tournament.
Spektakom is yet to announce the monetisation plan for the commercial launch of the technology. Currently the company hopes to increase adoption via its broadcast partnership with Star India.
“We’ve already seen the impact 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,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president, Microsoft. Microsoft is currently powering sports tech based solutions for the likes of LaLiga, NFL, Nascar, PGA and Formula One among others.