App that turns your smartphone into a pro-level precision speed gun as accurate as $1,000+ radar guns.
About this project
This project is a father-son dream come true.
But before sharing that story, here’s the pay-off for our backers:
- Turns the phone in your pocket into a precision baseball speed gun
- Uses smartphone video camera, no messing with hardware sensors
- Accuracy to tenths of a mph
- As accurate as $1,000+ pro scout radar guns, for 2% of the price
- Calls out the pitch speed on the phone’s speaker
- Can use it during game in dugout, in foul territory, in the stands
- Saves pitch speeds in a database for use in training
- Multiple Sports now: Baseball & Cricket
- 2017 goal to add: Tennis, Soccer, American Football
- Has Regular mode and Pro-Level options
HOW SMARTPITCH CAME TO BE
Dexter is our son, a lefty pitcher who has been passionate about baseball since he was 8 years old. He pitched in Little League, JV, High School, college and now men’s leagues. Dexter is also a wonderfully talented geek, a software engineer who loves coding connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Back in 2009 we were counting frames in videos of his pitching to measure speed. By 2013 we had built programs to speed up this manual counting and speed measurement.
I am a retired data scientist with a PhD in Quantitative Business Analysis, and also love doing baseball things with Dexter. That includes being his bullpen catcher, and his partner in co-creating SmartPitch.
Our baseball connection goes way back. Dexter wrote a short essay in the 10th grade, “My Journey into Baseball”, about how important baseball became to him. You can see it by scrolling to the bottom of the Home section at the SmartPitch website. Written 10 years ago about Dexter’s first time at a major league baseball game when he was 8, it ends with: “The important part was that my dad and I had discovered a new passion, something that would bring us endless joy and fun in the future!”
More than 10 years later, together we discovered that studying his delivery in detail, frame-by-frame in those videos was a big help in improving his delivery. A by-product was that we also developed a way to measure his pitch speed.
That discovery confirmed the viability of one of the three essential components for the SmartPitch app – the math I had developed. It also fired us up with the possibility that we could build a smartphone app based on our method for determining speed very precisely from live, automated video analysis of pitching.
In the early days of developing our speed calculations methods, we measured the ball’s travel in each video frame on a desktop computer, using manually operated scale calibration and measurement software.
But by 2014, as Dexter was graduating from Stony Brook University with a degree in computer science, he came up with a critical breakthrough.
He created ingenious computer code that automated the video image capture and analysis of video files of his pitching sessions. Our testing of the outputs from his code showed great promise in its ability to identify the ball in the video image while filtering out the noise of movement in the background. It also proved the accuracy of the data that his code captured from the video.
The raw data from the video analysis becomes the input to the math algorithms that I had written and fine-tuned. These mathematical factors allow you to use SmartPitch from many locations on the field, including from the dugout, in foul territory or in the stands. This is a breakthrough versus radar guns that force you to stand behind home plate.
See the User Location Freedom diagram below.
SmartPitch is far more useful in real-life baseball situations than other apps that must be placed on the infield and can’t be used during a ball game.
The final component required was the smartphone user interface (UI). We designed it based on many experiments and trial and error and came up with the minimum number of user inputs for really fast set-up, which takes about 15 seconds.
The “big moment” came this April when Dexter did the tricky C++ / Objective C coding to combine these three components: the UI + the live video feed capture and analysis + the math algorithms.
Now the crucial test remained: would it run fast enough to work on a typical smartphone in real time?
In bullpen sessions, a pitcher throws a pitch every 15 – 20 seconds. Also, the app uses the live video feed from the smartphone camera. A new video frame is created every 1/30th of a second, and the video analysis software had to be faster than that analyzing each frame, not to fall behind the pace of the constantly incoming streaming video data.
The major challenge was to assure that the thousands of lines of code and math analysis we had written had to finish processing in less than 1/30th of a second.
So in April when we loaded that combined code onto an iPhone 5s, after much debugging, we had the enormous father and son thrill of celebrating years of working on our method together.
We had our essential breakthrough. We tested it rigorously with live pitching and proved that it analyzes the real time streaming video feed with precision, and fast enough to work in live pitching situations.
That was the green light we needed for our smartphone speed gun Proof of Concept (POC) hands-free app you can use almost anywhere on the field, SmartPitch!!!!
Our side-by-side comparisons of SmartPitch speeds speed to a Stalker radar gun have verified its accuracy. SmartPitch matches professional radar to tenths of a mile per hour for a $20 price, 2% of the Jugs and Stalker radars’ price.
Here is a video of a SmartPitch – Stalker face-off.
Part of the math magic inside in the app is that it performs 13 precision adjustments and uses 8 regression and data models to achieve its impressive decimal point accuracy and to enable it to be used almost anywhere.
SmartPitch does its magic using very precise measurements of the movements in just a few pixels out of the nearly 1 million pixels in each image from the live video feed. That means that the camera cannot also move, and your smartphone must be mounted on a tripod. If you don’t already have a tripod, some of our Reward options include a tripod and camera holding bracket.
A double benefit of having a tripod is that hand-held videos of sports events are really hard to watch. All the shaking and jigging you get is really hard on the eyes. Using a tripod to film sports gives you professional-looking videos to watch and share! Anyone at all serious about filming sports should be using a tripod.
Kickstarter-Funded Conversion of POC to Production App
Our Kickstarter project is designed to turn this Proof of Concept of our revolutionary baseball speed gun , SmartPitch, into a production level app. We will:
- Build a great user interface with the input from Kickstarter Beta Testers
- Deliver SmartPitch across many iPhone and Android devices
- Add a built-in tracking database with stats and charts for multiple pitchers
Not until we have delivered SmartPitch to our Kickstarter backers will be move on to preparing for SmartPitch distribution in the App Store and Google Play store in 2017. Kickstarter backers will be the charter SmartPitch users!
We would love to see SmartPitch in use on neighborhood and school baseball fields everywhere!! Unlike the $1,000+ radar guns, SmartPitch can be used by everyone who enjoys playing, watching and coaching baseball!!!
SmartPitch breaks the speed gun price barrier, and as one of our charter backers, you can help us break the speed barrier!!!
SmartPitch is the affordable future of speed measurement!!!
ADVANTAGES OVER RADAR GUNS & OTHER APPS
- SmartPitch is completely automatic. After set-up, it captures the speed and records all pitches automatically, unattended, untouched.
- It picks up actual Release Speed out of the hand, which the radar guns in use are unable to do consistently. A pitch loses 10% or more of it’s speed by the time it reaches home plate. Some radar guns don’t pick up the ball until it’s halfway to home and the pitch has lost 5% of its speed!
- Unlike radar guns owners, SmartPhone users will get future new features
- It has better set-up than radar guns. SmartPitch is used in foul territory or in the dugout, or at 1st or 3rd base, not behind home, which radar requires, or two tiny mandatory spots on the infield as in other apps.
FREEDOM OF LOCATION
We call SmartPitch the “Use Anywhere” speed gun because it gives you freedom to use it where you would normally watch the game, all the green areas in this chart. So, you can’t use it literally anywhere, but compared to where you can use a radar gun and some other apps, you have full Freedom of Location.
Given the way scouts all scrunch up together behind home plate, we’ve had some fun captioning some examples of scouts and their radar guns.
WHO’S IT FOR
- Baseball and Cricket players, “out of the box”
- iPhone and Android
- Our goal is to add Tennis, Soccer and Football in early 2017. Kickstarter backers receive all sports we can add within the timeline.
- Great for college and high school coaches, and adult leagues.
- New way to gauge pitcher tryouts and to track training progress.
- Perfect for parents and baseball fans, too!
COOL HIGH TECH TOOL
- Patent Pending, trademark application in progress
- No additional radar hardware required, uses video analysis
- 4 years to develop, 1000’s of hours field testing
- To achieve its impressive decimal point accuracy:
- Automatically performs 13 precision adjustments
- Automatically uses physics & optics factors from 8 data models
- Over 10,000 lines of code
- Don’t be fooled by the “stop watch” apps out there that require you to tap the screen when the ball is released and caught. A pitch takes only 0.5 seconds or less to reach home, so tapping the screen twice with those apps is inherently very inaccurate.
Our best estimates of our key milestones are:
- September 2016. SmartPitch Kickstarter Fund-Raising
- October – November 2016. During the 2016 World Series, we will complete SmartPitch professional App and Website Design and User Interface. Kickstarter Beta Test Partners will help us arrive at the best designs.
- November 2016. Build Android version of the SmartPitch app. Kickstarter Beta Test Partners will help test the Android version.
- November 2016. Build SmartPitch pitch database and charting, with features for tracking multiple players.
- December 2016. Final field testing and enhancements of SmartPitch with Kickstarter Beta Test Partners. We’re counting on some mild days in December for this!!
- February 2017. Deliver professional iPhone and Android SmartPitch to all Kickstarter funders, in time for Spring Training!!
- Later in 2017. Provide SmartPitch on App Store & Google Play Store.
Risks and challenges
We have tested, improved and verified the desktop version of SmartPitch for more than 2 years. We have built and tested an iPhone Proof of Concept (POC) version of SmartPitch.
Our risks and challenges are that with this Kickstarter project, we need to succeed in:
– Converting the POC version into a production version app for baseball and for cricket
– Building a professionally designed, attractive and clear User Interface and test it for ease of use by all
– Building an Android version of SmartPitch
– Adding the pitch history database
– Adding Tennis, soccer and American football options
– Adding softball and youth league options with 60 feet between bases – currently the app works for full-size fields with 90 feet between bases