Cricket could be the latest sport to embrace wearable tech, with one startup in Pakistan developing a smart sleeve to detect illegal bowling actions.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) rules a bowler's arm can't be bent more than 15 degrees when bowling. However, this can only currently be judged through an umpire's interpretation or a long testing process in a biomechanics lab.
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"What we have developed is an affordable, wearable sleeve embedded with sensors which bowlers can wear on their arms and which can instantaneously show through a smartphone app if the bowling action is legal or not," Abdullah Ahmed, CEO of CricFlex, told GEO News.
The team of five young electrical engineers first developed the idea for a NUST university project in 2014, around the controversy involving former top-ranked Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal's bowling action.
But while the sleeve is able to detect illegal actions with up to one degree of accuracy, the innovation doesn't end there.
The CricFlex Android app also doubles up as a trainer, allowing bowlers to see the force and speed of their action at the ball's release point, how much spin is on the ball and how long it took to complete a delivery.
The team is still working to refine the overall product, with a release expected to drop soon. And when it does, it won't just be those at the highest level who have access to the corrective tool.
"We think that this is most needed by cricketers at the grassroots level, so we want to target cricket clubs and academies first," Ahmed continued.
The group has been working on the project for some time, first gaining traction after presenting their paper — A Wearable Wireless Sensor for Real Time Validation of Bowling Action in Cricket — at the IEEE Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks Conference at MIT in 2015.
And after winning a competition at Startup Lahore — the biggest startup event in Pakistan — over the weekend, the team will no doubt be putting the cash prize of PKR 1,000,000 ($9,500) to use.
Hopefully, once CricFlex conquers illegal bowling actions, it can develop an effective way for batsmen to pierce the off-side field.
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