Abhishek Bhat, a fast bowler who has played for Saurashtra and Jammu and Kashmir, and represented Bengaluru Blasters in the Karnataka Premier League, uses SeeHow cricket balls once a week to evaluate his progress and gauge his bowling speed.

These are not your typical cricket balls. Developed by Bengaluru-based sports technology start-up SeeHow, these smart balls have a built-in sensor board comprising a micro-controller, a wireless radio, inertial sensors, a battery and on-board memory to capture motion data.

Basic statistics such as speed, spin and swing can be seen on the SeeHow app in real time.
Basic statistics such as speed, spin and swing can be seen on the SeeHow app in real time.

“As a fast bowler, you really want to know what kind of pace you are generating. Very few places will have access to a speed gun. If I am making any technical changes to my bowling action and grip, the data generated by a smart ball can tell how it has impacted my bowling speed and swing," says Bhat.

The ball captures and records the data in the on-board memory and sends it to the phone via Bluetooth. Basic statistics such as speed, spin and swing can be seen on the SeeHow app in real time.

For more advanced statistics and recommendations, the app feeds the data into a machine learning engine on the cloud.

The sensor board has been placed inside in such a way that it does not impact the ball’s weight, design or seam position.

However, the smart cricket ball will cost 2.5 times more than a normal cricket ball, when it will be commercially available sometime during the second quarter of 2019.

The ball and the solution are currently available to elite academies and professional cricketers.

“We are entering the market by addressing a specific problem in cricket that is bowling (pitching). Bowlers in cricket have no tools to measure and improve their performance. Solutions like Hawkeye are very expensive and most academies can’t afford it. They are also cumbersome to set up and are intrusive in terms of usage," says Dev Chandan, founder and CEO, SeeHow.

The smart balls are just a case in point. The fact is that athletes and coaches the world over, who typically relied on data captured via camera systems, are now increasingly using data capturing systems that are being built directly into sports equipment, such as balls. This helps furnish player, coaches and officials with more actionable data to improve and adapt.

One such example is the Smart Ball system used in the official soccer ball of the Fifa World cup in July-August.

Developed by Adidas and Cairos Technologies, the ball had sensors built inside it to capture data such as its exact position. The data would be relayed in real time through a network of receivers installed around the field. The technology helped the referees determine when the ball had completely crossed the goal line.

Likewise, US-based Coach Labs has developed a smart golf ball, Gen i1, which uses a built-in sensor, Bluetooth and an onboard micro-controller to capture data such as the direction, speed, force of impact, and rotation after the ball is hit. The data captured by the ball can be accessed in the Gen i1 mobile app. The ball can be pre-ordered at Indiegogo at $99 (around 7,245)

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