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Microsoft, Cricket Star Anil Kumble Unveil Power Bat for New Analytics


Microsoft, Cricket Star Anil Kumble Unveil Power Bat for New Analytics

Spektacom’s sensor sticker uses Microsoft’s cloud and AI technologies to convert any bat to a data-collecting Power Bat. (Courtesy of Microsoft)

Microsoft and former Indian cricket captain Anil Kumble have developed a tech-enabled cricket bat that can provide more batting data to players and fans. Kumble, who retired from international cricket in 2008, is now the founder of sports startup Spektacom Technologies.

The Power Bat uses a small IoT-enabled sticker on its rear to collect data points such as velocity and twist on impact, power, and rotation. The sticker uses Azure Sphere, an internet-of-things operating system, to collect and analyze the data through cloud-based artificial intelligence.

During live matches, additional metrics that can be computed in real-time include quality of shot, which Microsoft defines as the percentage proximity of a ball’s contact to the sweet spot of a bat. All of the component stats are then translated into a new overall metric called “Power Spek.” The sticker can be applied to any cricket bat.

“Our vision is to bring sports closer to fans through interesting ways of engagement using real-time sports analytics,” Kumble said in a news release. “At the same time, it is important that the technologies used are seamless and do not disrupt the game or obstruct the players. 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.”

Leading cricket broadcaster Star India is also a founding partner and will use some of the generated data in its coverage.

SportTechie Takeaway

Despite cricket’s staid and traditional reputation, the sport has shown a progressive streak with technology. To aid officiating, for instance, cricket uses the infrared Hot Spot system. Broadcasters often deploy a Hawkeye optical tracking system to follow ball movement and the Snickometer, a microphone placed in the wicket stumps, to determine if there was contact between the bat and ball on a swing. Applying technology to performance analytics—and for fan engagement purposes—is a natural extension of this effort.



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