Microsoft partners with professional cricketer to make smart bat technology

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Microsoft has partnered with Spektacom, an Indian company making a smart bat for cricket players.

Rachel Lerman

Microsoft is teaming up with prominent Indian athlete Anil Kumble to debut a cricket bat that can track batting analytics in real-time, and send them straight to fans.

Kumble on Thursday announced the Power Bat, a bat equipped with an internet-connected sensor that communicates with a receiver buried in the cricket pitch and analyzes data instantly.

The lightweight sticker affixed on a bat is designed to be unobtrusive for players but still powerful enough to capture data.

Eventually, Microsoft and Kumble’s company, Spektacom, hope to expand the technology to other sports in India and the U.S., said Peggy Johnson, Microsoft’s business development executive vice president.

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It could be used in baseball, football or soccer and may someday include helmet analytics that could help detect and prevent concussions, she said.

The Power Bat’s sensor can detect speed on impact, twist on impact and other analytics. When a batsman hits the ball, the small sticker stuck on the bat sends information to the receiver, or “stump box,” located behind the player and then on to a broadcaster.

Soon, Spektacom’s Power Bat will also send analytics to a mobile app so fans in the stands can get information on their phones.

“It brings about a whole new dimension of how the fan looks at the game of cricket itself,” said Kumble, who retired from playing professionally in 2012.

Kumble, who is an engineer by training and one of the country’s all-time top cricketers, said the technology will also be used to help players and coaches understand and tweak how batsmen are playing.

Spektacom has offices in Bangalore, India, at Microsoft’s ScaleUp program, which helps launch startups. The Indian company’s technology is powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service. Spektacom and Microsoft have partnered with Indian broadcaster Star India to begin sharing game analytics.

The Power Bat is not yet available for sale publicly, and Microsoft didn’t release details about cost.

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