Baseball’s grab-and-go technology has flooded the market with enough analytics to make a brain spin. Between Pocket Radar, Stalker, TrackMan, Rapsodo, Blast Motion, Diamond Kinetics, and Yakkertech, pitchers and hitters have access to more data points than a nuclear physicist.
If only the numbers could all be aggregated into a single video.
Again, that’s the goal of AWRE (pronounced Aware) Sports, a startup that relies on camera vision, cloud technology, skeletal tracking, and streaming to create automated movie clips. that can be superimposed on any baseball player’s wide range of personal measurements.
The company currently deploys its hardware and software at the Division I level with the University of Maryland, at the DII level with Erskine College, at the DIII level with Keystone College, at the JuCo level with Eastern Oklahoma State College, at the prep level with IMG Academy and , yes, even at the youth level with Brick Little League in New Jersey.
The result is an app that serves as both a recruiting platform, a training platform, a game stream platform, and ultimately, in an absolute dream scenario, like maybe a competitor to scoring application and automated highlighting company GameChanger.
On @AWRE_Sportseach player has their own QR code.
So when a college coach asks to know more about a player, you can simply share that code and that coach will have access to ALL courts the player is involved in.
AND this video is filterable. IE-show me all their hits ?. pic.twitter.com/8ALVUQheKq
— Ken Spangenberg (@KenSpang) July 31, 2022
“Obviously, GameChanger is literally everywhere – it’s a monster,” says Ken Spangenberg, AWRE’s sales manager and older brother to Cory Spangenberg of the St. Louis Cardinals. “But I think there are differences that separate us from others. Firstly, the fact that we try to capture everything, not just games. I hope people end up choosing: ‘Do I want to watch on GameChanger or do I want to put it on AWRE?'”
If nothing else, AWRE has vision…as well as computer vision. It doesn’t intend to be the rating app that GameChanger is, although it does stream games. Instead, it wants to elevate its streams to another stratosphere with radar and sensor integrations.
The company’s roots are in golf. CEO and co-founder Chris Clark, a former DI Wofford college baseball player, is married to former Vanderbilt golf coach Holly Clark and has seen his wife struggle to organize data, dashboards and team spreadsheets. Around 2012, he developed software that allowed his players to store all their vital golf analytics on their iPhones, giving rise to a company he called “Birdie Fire”.
But his passion remained baseball, and he later developed a predictive spray graph model that won over most college programs that demonstrated it. One of those schools, Oregon State, won the 2018 College World Series, saying Clark’s spray pattern predictor helped them position their defense and strategize for the location of the field during their title run. From there, Clark had no choice but to expand.
“I have that [Oregon State] coach wanting to give me a testimonial,” Clark recalled. “I’m like, ‘Damn, now I have to figure this out. It may never get better. How can I benefit from turning this into a baseball business? »
Transform your video and live broadcast @AWRE_Sports ?. #recruitment pic.twitter.com/Cy5DOmJuZ6
— Ken Spangenberg (@KenSpang) August 9, 2022
He ended up having a helpful conversation with his Wofford college roommate, Steve Johnson, who ran a New Jersey baseball training academy named Invictus with his business partner Rob Corsi. The discussion turned to the wide array of technologies in baseball: Pocket Radars, Stalkers, TrackMans, Blasts, and more. Johnson explained how travel ball players at his facility needed these types of data points to be recruited, but often had no way to afford or access such high-end technology.
Clark then talked about how college programs could afford all these devices but could barely aggregate it. He mentioned that graduating assistants were still tasked with noting down launch angle, exit speed, spin rate, bat speed – arduous and imperfect tasks.
We democratize recruitment. The one percenters have the high end rigs like Yakkertech or Track Man. It’s the Power 5 schools. But I think what we’ve built and why it’s interesting is that it can also serve an 8U team. So we’re not looking at 1% of the market, we’re looking at the entire market.
The outgrowth of these discussions became the genesis of AWRE. Clark and Johnson — with help from CTO Dave Johansen, COO Corsi, and later Spangenberg — launched the company into their comfort zone: college baseball. Because of their relationships since their days at Wofford, Clark and Johnson made the decision to reach out to universities large and small to test their hardware and software.
The equipment involved installing six cameras on each college’s baseball field: a center field camera, a camera above home plate, and two other cameras on each dugout so that a batter and pitcher could be filmed from their open and closed sides. Meanwhile, the software involved camera vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence that allowed every pitch or swing to become an automated video clip.
AWRE cameras use AI technology to provide real-time highlights and data.
Next comes the addition of the video overlay. Integration with Pocket Radar, for example, began with uploading a pitch velocity to the Pocket Radar cloud, where it would then be synced to the AWRE cloud. With other apps, such as the Stalker radar gun, the overlay vehicle can be Bluetooth instead of a cloud, according to Johansen. He says that for TrackMan V3 bullet flight tracking, there is a listening device that combines data with video. With Blast Motion, data is layered through separate uploads and downloads, and the same is true with Yakkertech.
“We started selling it to colleges,” says Spangenberg. “The reason for that is that it’s the cleanest target. You know what the fields will be like, you know they’re going to pay their bills on time, you know they’re going to be tech-savvy. And we’ re full. So at this point we have a waiting list.”
In other words, anyone streaming a Maryland Terrapins baseball game this season via AWRE will be able to switch between the six cameras, but also see the metrics of each pitch and swing on the company’s game center. But game streaming isn’t the platform’s long-term goal: streaming analytics is.
The company will soon be testing a platform on smartphones that will allow parents or fans to log in, start streaming any game through the AWRE app, and immediately have automated clips of every pitch or swing. which can be found on player profiles. If the fan or parent can bring a Pocket Radar or Stalker or Blast with them, or if the venue is equipped with AWRE software, metrics can be overlaid on each clip – turning every swing or pitch into a video that can be sent to college or shared on social media with verified analytics.
GameChanger has begun doing the same during games, but AWRE’s hardware and software can be deployed in batting cages or relievers for equally valuable practice data.
“We’re democratizing recruiting,” says Spangenberg, a former head baseball coach at DIII Arcadia University. “The one percenters have high-end platforms like Yakkertech or Track Man. Those are the Power 5 schools. But I think what we’ve built and why it’s interesting is that it can also serve an 8U team. So we’re not looking at 1% of the market, we’re looking at the entire market.”
AWRE’s longer-term goal is to eventually use its skeletal tracking — which is currently part of its machine learning — to measure metrics like pitch bike and output bike alone… without integrating all the grab-and-go technology.
“Then our app can give people feedback on their swing or pitch mechanics in real time,” says Johansen. “Our product may say, ‘Your swing most resembles Mike Trout. Or Aaron Judge.’ How cool would that be?”
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