Photo Credit : Prof. F.K. Fuss
Cricket is the 2nd-most popular sport in the world.
According to the Argus Report, under the ‘immediate actions to improve the team’s operations’ recommended by Cricket Australia was the improvement of Australia’s Team’s skills in the area of bowling, specifically ‘Spin bowling and captaincy of spin bowling’.
Cricket is the number one participation sport in Australia, and also has highest penetration of any sport in Australia.
The key growth area is female cricket with a 39% increase (22% of total participants).
In spite of the popularity of cricket, performance data, other than Hawk eye data, are not available, as the bat cannot be instrumented by law (no other material allowed than wood), and the ball is too small for being instrumented.
The problems to be solved in this project were threefold:
1) instrument the ball despite its small size;
2) discover new performance parameters not known previously due to lack of data; and
3) use these data for personal performance management of bowlers.
The smart ball assesses the bowling performance with telemetry and a data recorder and visualises the data. The ball is suitable for talent identification; continuous testing of performance including fatigue, and for player selection.
Prof. Franz Konstantin Fuss, M.D., PGDipBiomechanics, PhD (in the area of biomedical engineering), with 28 years of academic and industry experience; full professor of Sports Engineering, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at RMIT University. He holds several patents on surgical spinal implants and instruments, as well as on smart equipment. He was the Deputy Director of the BioMedical Engineering Research Centre at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (2003-2007), Member of the Executive Committee of the International Sports Engineering Association (2006-2012), and founder and Editor-in-Chief of the journal SPORTS TECHNOLOGY (2008- to date). He is currently Professor of Sports Engineering at RMIT University; Program Leader, Innovative Engineering Systems, Platform Technologies Research Institute (RMIT); and Project Leader of the RMIT SportzEdge / Sports Technology and Engineering Research Program. He is also a Co-Director of the Australian Sports Technology Network. Over the recent years, he filed a couple of patents on smart sports equipment.
Mr. Batdelger Doljin, BEng (Telecommunication and Electronics Engineering), with 16 years of industry experience in the areas of Mobile Telecom, Radio transmission, Consumer, and Railway Electronics. He is currently the Quality Assurance Representative with Faiveley Transport; and concurrently a PhD-Candidate with RMIT University. He is also the inventor of a sensor array system.
Imagine an Indian, English or Australian boy, or even girl, dreaming of becoming the best bowler in the world, asking him/herself the same question over and over: Why can’t my cricket ball speak to me, tell me what I do wrong and how I can improve my performance? Why can’t I connect my ball to my smartphone and manage my training sessions?
The smart ball is the answer to these questions. It is designed to improve the bowling skills and versatility, being able to quickly change between bowling deliveries. Spin bowling is a lost art as more wickets taken by fast bowlers. Most spin bowlers master only one type of delivery: off- or leg-spin; maybe a second one such as flipper or doosra – yet the number of possible deliveries ranges between 15 and 20. The smart ball is therefore well placed to revive the lost art of spin bowling.
The options are to have the performance data on the smartphone, to be shared all over the world; big data on a cloud, with performance statistics from beginners to elite, allowing the recruitment of the next generation of elite bowlers from cloud data.
We have developed the world’s first smart cricket ball that records the spin rate with high-speed electronic gyroscopes, measures performance parameters such as spin rate, torque, bowling efficiency, and the pressure centre, sends data wirelessly to computer or smartphone, and is charged inductively.
Discovery of new performance parameters of bowling, previously unknown and unmeasurable: torque, bowling efficiency, and centre of pressure (that point where the summation torque is imparted on the ball), to be used for performance management and optimisation of training.
Sensor-less sensing: determining the centre of pressure with a new method that does not use sensors (the electronic gyroscopes cannot measure the location of the centre of pressure)
The innovations that went into the product were driven by the following needs:
1) there is no way of measuring the bowling performance other than using expensive equipment (hawk eye, lab-based motion analyses systems);
2) a ball based sensor and telemetry system offers the opportunity of discovering and developing new performance parameters, that benefit the sport of cricket in a scientific way;
3) electronic (smart) equipment is particularly attractive to children and assists in increasing participation numbers and in preparing the next generation of elite bowlers.
The design challenge was related to 3 items:
1) Miniaturisation of the electronics. Based on the given design constraints (ball of 72 mm diameter), the ball has to house all electronics components. They fit into a sphere that has 1/10 of the ball’s volume.
2) Userfriendliness of the product. the ball transfers the data wirelessly and is charged inductively (wirelessly).
3) Discovery of new performance parameters and their visualisation. What are the important parameters of bowling, previously unknown? How can they be displayed in a way that can be easily be understood by the users?
The smart ball consists of a cricket ball’s natural materials (biodegradable), miniaturised electronics components, and minimal amount for potting / plastic material for protecting the electronics. The docking station for wireless charging uses off-the shelf products.
This award celebrates creativity and innovation for either a product design at conceptual stage - an early sample or model of a product that has not reached the manufacture stage nor available to the market.