Source: Spektacom

Startup Street: Anil Kumble Lets Out His Engineer Instincts

This week on Startup Street, cricket icon Anil Kumble is getting back to his roots to improve cricket analytics. A phone that will mimic you and reply for you. The world’s largest shipping container firm comes to India with an accelerator. And the winners of Facebook’s first ever India Startup Day. Here’s what went on:

Meet Kumble’s Power Bat

Source: Spektacom Technologies
Source: Spektacom Technologies

For Anil Kumble life is coming full circle: from an engineer to a cricketer to coach, and now back to being an engineer again. But the former Indian cricket captain is now out to help the batsmen—a breed that he flummoxed throughout his long career as a spin bowler.

Kumble’s startup Spektacom Technologies, in collaboration with Microsoft Azure, has launched the Power Bat—a credit card-sized sensor that uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to capture batting insights. The miniature device that is stuck on the shoulder of a bat can capture details such as bat speed, twist of the bat at the time of hitting the ball, quality and the power of the shot, according to its website.

“We’ve always heard experts talk about batting, saying he’s hitting it from the sweet spot or he’s a powerful hitter. But what does that mean in real data?” Kumble said in a video to mark the launch of the product. “There’s hardly any sport that gives live data coming out of the equipment of the player.”

Over the years cricket has effectively embraced a number of technologies ranging from the speed gun to measure speed of the ball, to Hawkeye that predicts the trajectory of the ball and even hotspot, which uses thermal imaging to see where the ball’s impact was.

Yet, there has been a lack of technologies that aid the batsman in getting a better sense of their shots. “For self improvement it's a great tool,” Kumble said. “You don’t need anyone looking over your shoulder, you can improve yourself looking at the data that comes out.”

(Source: Microsoft)
(Source: Microsoft)

Spektacom developed the smart sticker which was first used as a pilot in the Tamil Nadu Premier League. It relies on Microsoft Azure’s analytics and AI services to transfer real-time insights that are captured through the stump box and can be displayed by the broadcaster. The same data can also be viewed through a mobile application. The sticker charges wireless and weighs less than 5 grams. The form factor was key, Kumble said, as they didn’t want a tool that was obstructive to the player.

Kumble, an engineer by education, is known to have experimented with technology early in his career when he created a software package for the Indian cricket team to gather scoresheet data for analysis.

While helping batsmen understand their play better, Spektacom’s product will also help improve fan engagement, Sanjay Gupta, managing director of Star India, said in a media release. Star India is the official broadcasting partner for Spektacom.

Microsoft has been working closely with Spektacom and Kumble to incubate and launch the product as part of its ScaleUp program.

The sticker is now available for cricket but it will also be available for other sports, including baseball, tennis, hockey and golf. “Our vision is to bring sports closer to fans through interesting ways of engagement using real-time sports analytics,” the former leg-spinner said.

Will You Let A Phone Do Your Talking?

The consumer electronics startup founded by Android creator Andy Rubin is working on a new project: a phone that mimics the user and automatically talks to people on their behalf.

Essential Products Inc. has put aside most of its projects to focus on development of this new kind of phone, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter. They’ve paused work on a planned home speaker months after they cancelled a different smartphone, according to the report.

Last year the company had launched the Essential Smartphone to great fanfare, particularly among Android purists. The startup spent nearly $100 million on developing the phone. But sales were disappointing due to a steep price tag and technical glitches.

The Essential Phone. (Source: Essential Phone Facebook page)
The Essential Phone. (Source: Essential Phone Facebook page)

The device’s design will stray away from a standard smartphone. It will have a small screen and users will mainly have to interact to it with their voice.

There was buzz earlier this year that Rubin was looking at potential suitors to buyout his startup. However, he quashed rumours saying the startup will cancel the new smartphone and instead work on some new “game-changing” products.

Rubin has been developing phones for nearly 20 years. After leaving Google in 2014, he formed Playground Global, an incubator that has raised about $300 million from the likes of Amazon, Tencent and Redpoint. Essential is part of the same incubator.

Maersk Looks To Partner With Indian Startups

World’s largest container shipping firm Maersk Line has launched an accelerator programme in Bengaluru as it looks to tap into the country’s growing technological talent.

OceanPro will be a 120-day accelerator programme that will also offer startups startups to partner with Maersk and take their offerings to a global scale, the Danish shipping giant said in a release. The programme will support start ups working on supply chain solutions while leveraging new age technologies like blockchain, internet of things, advance text analytics and artificial intelligence.

“We recognise the immense potential of India’s technology and digital talent and are looking to capitalise on these capabilities to help the logistics industry worldwide to reinvent itself,” Søren Skou, chief executive officer of A. P. Moller-Maersk, who'd visited the firm's Bengaluru service centre this week, said. "OceanPro is yet another effort by us to promote the creation of innovative solutions that meet evolving business needs."

Maersk has already identified eight startups to collaborate with and develop solutions for customer engagement and managing operations. These are Unido Labs, La Vela Pictures, Zasti, Inatrix, MintM, LinkedDots, KrypC and Dhruv.

Who Won Facebook’s First India Startup Day?

Facebook held its first edition of the India Startup Day on Oct. 9 in Delhi to acknowledge the country’s thriving startup ecosystem. It had said that it would give away awards in five categories.

The winners are:

Greenway Grameen won the award for the She Leads Tech category that was for women-founded or co-founded startups. They are building biomass-powered eco-friendly stoves in an attempt to reduce traditional mud stoves in rural India.

Scapic won in the Building for Tomorrow category that was for startups applying emerging technologies for building solutions. It is building a WordPress-like publishing platform for virtual and augmented reality content.

Aye Finance won the award in the Building for the Next Billion category that was for those building solutions for India’s social, cultural or environmental problems. The startup focuses on small business lending at an affordable price.

Nanoclean Global was the winner in the Building for the World category for producing affordable bio-safe nonfibers. Their Nasofilter is a disposable respiratory filter to keep out pollutants.

Hasura emerged victorious in the Community Builder segmen for their instant APIs for rapid development of applications. Their platform can create a simple to-do app in merely three minutes.