Inside Tech: Will XOS SportMotion prolong pitching careers?

Last week XOS Technologies and the American Sports Medicine Institute created a new module for the XOS SportMotion 3D graphic training system that will allow MLB teams that use SportMotion to send data over the Internet to ASMI for analysis. The goal? To improve on-the-field performance without players and coaches taking valuable time off. SportMotion uses the same motion-capture technology used in the videogame industry, with players donning suits with small reflective dots that are then read by computers hooked up to cameras to build 3D models of the athlete in motion.
Albert Tsai, XOS Technologies, VP of Advanced Research and Development, spoke with SVG editorial director Ken Kerschbaumer about the new relationship.

Why start with baseball?
Baseball is a particularly good fit for SportMotion because right now the teams have to send their players down to Birmingham, AL where ASMI is located for exactly the kind of motion analysis our system provides. So with the new module they can capture the data at their home facility, format the data for analysis by ASMI, and get results without having to travel.

I read in the New York Daily News that you were demonstrating the system to the New York Mets.

Yes. We went down and visited two clubs one of which was the Mets. We took eight cameras and placed them around the mound in one of the throwing tunnels and then blocked out the direct sunlight to create a mini SportMotion studio.

Can you tell me about the business model?

It’s still selling the SportMotion studio and the infrastructure and the Skills 360 software package. But the ASMI module is an add-on because we have no expertise in the player evaluation business. The goal is to establish a link between our systems in the field and the ASMI facility in Birmingham. Then the teams can negotiate a price for each analysis.

Is this for teams to diagnose injuries?

No. Over the long-haul it’s for analyzing a pitcher’s motion so they can incorporate things into their normal throwing routing that would prevent injury. Pitching is one of those skills where there is conclusive evidence that small errors over time can lead to an injury. That’s different from, say, football where the injuries are trauma-based. So any correction early in a career to mechanics can add years to a career.

At a six-figure price tag the system is pretty expensive. So why do you think it will be attractive?

ASMI is a non-profit that has a lot of credibility and for Major League teams there are only certain days during the season when they can send someone down to Birmingham for two days. They also might have to send a pitching coach and major leaguers don’t usually stay in a Motel 6. But they also really only have a chance to do that sort of analysis once a year so they don’t get the full benefit. With this system they can check progress during practices in the regular season and find out if a stride is too short and more easily see which changes have a positive effect.

So what’s next?

This week we’re taking the system to Arizona and we hope to show it to a few more teams there.

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