The following is an excerpt from the article entitled, “The Baseball Bat Purchasing Experience Has Gone Hi-Tech Thanks To Diamond Kinetics And DeMarini”, originally published on Oct. 26 on sporttechie.com
PITTSBURGH – Diamond Kinetics and DeMarini are creating a baseball bat revolution by moving the buying decision from deep in your gut, into your brain where it belongs. The revolution is called BatFitter, a one-of-a-kind system designed to quickly and empirically compare a number of DeMarini bats by analyzing a user’s unique swing using DK’s SwingTracker.
BatFitter has two components – a sensor developed by Diamond Kinetics and an iPad app that are connected through Bluetooth. To start, the lightweight sensor is placed on the knob of a bat that is used for 10 calibration swings. These swings are used as a warm-up and to establish a baseline that the following swings will be measured against. Next, the hitter chooses three DeMarini BBCOR bats and takes seven swings with each, moving the sensor from bat to bat accordingly. The sensor takes that data and provides actionable feedback on how the hitter can improve their swing.
Each bat is scored out of 30 using Diamond Kinetics’ swing metrics to provide power, hitting, and contact scores to determine which bat is engineered best for the user. The video game-esque interface of the app displays a score summary as well as a host of other data in a convenient and easy to understand way. Ultimately, it’s still up to the customer to choose a bat, and there are other factors such as price and feel, but DeMarini has found that around 75% of testers end up choosing the top ranked bat. The two companies expect that within the next few weeks they will have the initial locations up and running. DeMarini engineer Josh Stenzler views BatFitter as an exciting step for the company.
“This is just the beginning of entering the digital world for us, there are a lot of fun things on the horizon. There’s a lot of technology now that is available that didn’t exist 5 years ago, BatFitter is the start of the blending between tech and sports in our industry.”
While in sports like golf custom fitting has been developed to match the exact physical attributes of a player, finding the best baseball bat commonly involves using the outdated methods of decades ago. Since nothing like it currently exists, BatFitter has a chance to make considerable noise in the industry.
Diamond Kinetics was formed in 2013 to improve player performance in baseball through the utilization of sensors and motion analysis. Founder Dr. William Clark first thought of the idea of a bat fitter during the time he spent coaching his kids’ baseball teams.
“I coached my kids in tee-ball and all up through the ranks to fastpitch softball and baseball, and one of the most common questions I’d get from the other parents every season was ‘What’s the best bat for my child?’ And there really wasn’t a good answer for that. The more I thought about it the more I realized that it’s really a biomechanics problem.”
The complex nature of the human biological system required Dr. Clark to spend years researching a way to simulate how a person would perform with bats of various lengths and weights. After developing different measurements to create a model of a player Dr. Clark was able to determine optimal bats. However, it wasn’t until the rise of wearable sensors over the past few years that his methods had the hardware to match.
“Once the technology got to the point where bat fitting was possible I formed DK. We developed our own sensor and began the full-blown bat fitting process for players. The basic measurement technique is fairly standard in terms of wearable sensors; the challenge for baseball is that the speed the players swing their bats at and the acceleration that they generate are much higher than most applications.”
The sensor’s main function is to determine the acceleration and angular measurements of a swing. That data is captured at up to 1600 Hz and then fed into a series of algorithms in order to essentially create a model of the hitter and find the optimal bat for them. Once BatFitter was ready for use, Diamond Kinetics began collaborating with DeMarini. The baseball bat technology and performance expertise that DeMarini brought to the table elevated the product to a new level. Diamond Kinetics Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Schuldt sees the partnership as a perfect union.
“The catchphrase across the entire relationship has been collaboration. When we combined our respective areas of expertise and became one team, we saw a synergy effect that helped us collectively get to some new thoughts and new ideas that independently I’m not sure we would’ve arrived upon. It was a true team effort.”