Spektacom Technologies, a startup by Microsoft and cricketer Anil Kumble, with support from broadcast partner Star India, have introduced the Power Bat.

Based on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform using AI and Internet of Things (IoT) services, the Power Bat provides players, coaches, commentators, fans and viewers with a way of engaging with the sport and improving their game.

The Power Bat’s shoulder sports a lightweight, Azure Sphere-powered sticker – a form factor that is completely unobtrusive.

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 including the percentage proximity of the ball’s contact to the sweet spot of the willow) are captured in a new unit of measurement titled Power Speks.

Microsoft’s Azure Sphere ensures that the data is securely captured and processed.

Using advanced analytics and AI services on Azure, realtime 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.

Although the technology has its first use case in cricket, for Microsoft, Kumble and Star India this is the first of many sports where it can be used.

Microsoft has been working closely with Spektacom and its founder, former Indian cricket captain Kumble, to incubate and launch the product, as part of its ScaleUp program.

Broadcaster Star India has used the technology successfully in recent series to provide real-time statistics and insights straight off the oval.

“We’re excited to be a part of the work Spektacom and Star India are doing to enhance the cricket experience for fans, players and coaches,” says Peggy Johnson, executive vice-president of Microsoft. “We’ve already seen the impact that 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.”

Sanjay Gupta, MD of Star India, comments: “Star India has always strived to redefine and elevate experiences for sports fans. From Multi-language feeds and Select Dugout to VR and Watch n’ Play, the coverage of Vivo IPL demonstrates our commitment toward creating new benchmarks in how technology is deployed to deepen fan engagement. The Power Bat promises to be another step in the same direction, and we look forward to the partnership with Anil Kumble (Spektacom) and Microsoft in bringing it to our broadcasts.”

According to Kumble: “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. 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.”