|8 March 2017|
In the first of our 2017 series of Q&As with leading global startups, we hear from Will Bowen, one of the founders of US tech company, PA Software
At PA Software, we develop software which mimics the PITCH f/x and Trackman radar systems technology seen during Major League Baseball broadcasts. Pitch Analyzer, our pitch tracker, tracks a pitch’s flight path, velocity, and position relative to a virtual strike zone. Using this information we have the ability to extract some of the most meaningful metrics from a pitcher. For example, how many balls and strikes a pitcher throws, if they’re throwing more balls when they try to throw harder, if they’re consistently missing outside with a curveball. We also have the ability to break down a pitch frame by frame allowing users to analyze a pitcher’s mechanics. Hit Analyzer, our hit tracker, tracks a ball’s flight path, launch angle, field angle, exit velocity, hang time, peak height, and distance which allows for the capability to construct spray charts for hitters. Like Pitch Analyzer, Hit Analyzer also has a replay feature that allows users to break down a swing frame by frame to analyze a hitter’s mechanics. All that data is extracted from a single video clip from a high performance compact camera (GoPro) or a smartphone (IPhone) using computer vision algorithms. These metrics can then be uploaded into our cloud database and reviewed at a later date, allowing for performance evaluation over any length of time. We expect Hit Analyzer to be available by the beginning of April this year.
Tell us about the team
Our team is comprised of primarily four members, myself, Matt Bowen, Andrew White, and Jake Zarobsky. Matt, Andrew, and Jake are all currently undergraduate students at The University of Alabama and all are pursuing degrees in Computer Science. I am the only member who is not currently enrolled in school, however, I earned my BS in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Alabama in 2014. Matt is the sole end user client developer, which means he writes all the front end code for Pitch Analyzer and Hit Analyzer. Jake and Andrew are the cloud team, which means they manage our database and dashboard for our products. I handle the math and physics for both Pitch Analyzer and Hit Analyzer. We are a small startup so everything we do takes a lot of work and effort especially when we have all of our software developers still in school, but when others take interest in our work it makes it all worth it.
What is unique about your technology?
What makes this technology unique is there is no external equipment, just a camera and a laptop/desktop application. There are other similar technologies on the market, but all of these are high dollar, military grade radar systems that can cost over $10,000. That price range is not practical to your typical baseball or softball player. However, we are able to replicate these systems with just as much accuracy, but at a much more accessible price of $29.99.
Who can benefit from using it?
Everyone, but our target market is your backyard player. The player who probably won’t get the opportunity to use the super high dollar systems but still wants to put the work in to improve their game. This age range usually lines up with the 10-18 year old age group, but we have been in contact with other universities across the south eastern part of the states who have shown interest.
How do you stay on the front foot in an industry characterized by change/disruptive tech?
Currently we are the only company, to our knowledge, which has brought these complex tracking systems to the consumer level at an affordable price. We have managed to tap into a marketplace that has been ignored by the larger companies whose focus is at the semi professional and professional level. Wearables in athlete performance tracking has been a popular trend over the past few years, however, only very specific performance metrics can be extracted from these devices. We have the ability to be flexible with how we apply our technology and can apply our skills to a variety of sports, not just baseball and softball.
Where next for PA Software?
As for future plans for PA Software, we either hope to expand our company in the coming months or have the opportunity to partner with an existing company to help better the technology we have now. We are working to have a similar version of our desktop application placed onto a phone in the form of a smart phone app. Additionally, at some point we want to be able to bring an affordable game time system to little league parks around the United States and even around the world. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the technology of the big leagues at some point in their life time, so why not right now?