A smart device to make cricketers smarter

Islamabad - Imagine a wearable device that detects illegal bowling action, tracks arm force, action time and amount of spin to determine bowler’s performance and consistency. A group of fresh graduates has come up with such a device, which they plan to launch by the end of this year.

The product is an easily wearable armband with several inbuilt sensors.

Abdullah Ahmed, Muhammad Asawal and Waqas Ahmad, the team members, are Electrical Engineers and graduates of SEECS, NUST.

The idea was conceived in 2014, as a semester project, when Saeed Ajmal was suspended from bowling for the Pakistan Cricket team after ICC ruled his action illegal.

Today, Abdullah Ahmed heads this project as CEO of Startup named CricFlex currently operating from the National Incubation Centre, or NIC, situated in H-9, Islamabad.

“A bowler’s arm should not extend more than 15 degrees during the bowling action or it will be considered illegal.

“The sad thing is that most of our players don’t do this intentionally and because they don’t have the resources to gauge such things during training, later on, their careers are ruined and huge investments are lost, like what happened with Ajmal,” explained Ahmed.

When an umpire suspects a player for illegal action on field, the player is then taken to one of five ICC accredited biomechanics labs situated in Brisbane, Chennai, Cardiff, Loughborough and Pretoria. A new lab has been in the works at LUMS, being established by the Pakistan Cricket Board. Ahmed stated, “These five labs need to cater to 120 million players in the world and cost millions of dollars to set up the required equipment whereas our device will cost $300 initially and even this price will go down a lot once mass production begins.”

These young entrepreneurs’ aim to forgo the ICC’s biomechanic labs entirely. Since judgement of this fast movement with the naked eye is impossible and getting to a lab is difficult and expensive, this wearable device can attract a large market in sports academies, clubs, university and college cricket teams.

CricFlex has received multiple pre-orders from major cricket nations like England, Australia, India and Pakistan even before the product’s launch itself and received interest from cricket boards.

That way, ultimately, CricFlex can go from the grass root level to the international arena. Furthermore, they not only focus on detecting illegal action but also provide bowlers with a tracking system and graphing mechanism to present information about their overall performance, with the supporting Android Application. “Once the product is on the market, we hope that when experienced and acclaimed players use CricFlex, we can make their gathered data and statistics, such as force and speed, available to younger players, those in training, to make comparisons and train accordingly.” Ahmed told The Nation.

Initially, they struggled with funding and recognition. The first fruitful response came in the form of an acceptance to present their research paper titled “A Wearable Wireless Sensor for Real Time Validation of Bowling Action in Cricket” at the IEEE 12th Annual Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks Conference 2015, which was held in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Abdullah Ahmed is optimistic about the product. “Eventually, what will result is that players would be able to measure up to the likes of Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali,” he said referring to players of Pakistan cricket team, “It will truly be a way to train better and smarter.”

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