Imagine if a baseball coach could determine with accuracy what a player needs to do to hit the ball out of the park.
Diamond Kinetics is taking a swing at this lofty goal. The Pittsburgh startup’s first product, SwingTracker, wants to improve—and possibly even perfect—the swing of any amateur baseball or softball player, at any age. Look out Andrew McCutchen.
William Clark, a baseball fanatic and professor of mechanical engineering and material science at University of Pittsburgh, co-founded the company in 2012. Clark has been studying motion dynamics for the last 25 years and has written more than 100 technical papers on the subject.
Clark is joined by C.J. Handron, CEO and former director of Pitt’s PantherLab, at the company’s office at the Riverside Innovation Center. University of Michigan and Pitt jointly developed the intellectual property.
The baseball swing may be one of the most analyzed motions in sports, next to golf, says Handon. Yet the speed of the movement—200 milliseconds—makes it difficult for the greatest of coaches to eyeball the physics at play.
Handon explains how it works: A small flat device with wireless sensors is attached to the bottom of a baseball bat. As a player swings, it measures the motion, capturing the acceleration and angular velocity of the body. The data is then transmitted to a mobile app where it is analyzed.
“We recreate it in 3D, looking at the mechanics around the swing,” says Handron. “This is not just data for data’s sake. We can improve motion and muscle memory. This leads to actionable training.”
The data is expanded to offer benchmarks and exercises for players by age and skill level. At the end of the day, it’s about taking the information and using it to improve each player individually, Handon says.
Diamond Kinetics is targeting the mass amateur market, some 11 million young baseball and softball players playing the game in the U.S.
The platform is undergoing field testing in Pittsburgh with a launch targeted this summer. A second product, called BatTracker, which helps players pick the perfect bat for their skill level, will be released at the same time.
Ultimately, Diamond Kinetics envisions a social community of players who will share the tools and information through social media.
“We’re getting ready to change baseball and softball training and performance forever,” says Handron.