SFIA Member Spotlight — Blast Motion
Blast Motion, a leader in the sports tech space, has proven their dominance in the golf, baseball & softball industries with their sensors. Now, they are continuing to dive even deeper into the sports world with their innovations.
What is Blast Motion?
Fitzpatrick: Blast Motion is a leading Information Company that provides motion analysis and performance insights. We intelligently combine the bio-mechanics of movement with sensor data, video capture technology, and cloud-based software services to deliver training insights for athletic improvement and injury prevention.
What inspired you to create a sensor?
Fitzpatrick: After selling my most recent technology company, I decided to work full-time on my golf game, with the goal of qualifying for either an Amateur or Senior Amateur major tournament. Golf had not been my primary sport and after a few attempts, I realized I needed help! I searched the market for some form of technology that would give me some immediate feedback to improve. I was frustrated to not find a product and decided to develop one. I then teamed up with two others, who were working in the same area and together we formed Blast Motion. Ryan Kaps, one of my co-founders, is still a part of Blast Motion.
Who is your target market?
Fitzpatrick: While all sports will eventually be part of our market, we focused initially on baseball, softball and golf. Our strategy was to provide a total solution that would work for all levels of sports from youth to professionals. We work closely with professional teams, players, colleges, elite academies, high schools and little leagues. Our insights are valuable to players, coaches and teams.
How does Blast Motion stand out in the market?
Fitzpatrick: We have built a total solution for our customers that has been demonstrated to work! As an example, we work closely with the Houston Astros providing insights for them on their players. These insights were helpful in enabling them to win the World Series and becoming the #1 hitting team in 9 of 11 MLB hitting categories last year. We are now working with the vast majority of MLB teams. Blast Motion is also the official sensor technology for Women’s Professional Softball (NPF). They all recognize the accuracy and ease of use of our solution and the value of the information we collect, which was not previously available to players and coaches. In addition, our sensors are approved in game at the minor league level and NPF.
Our selection by TaylorMade in golf is another recognition of the value of our solution, as they take golf into a new direction with the Spider Interactive putter integrating intelligence directly in the putter! Blast has also invested heavily in IP since the formation of the company. This will be important, as we have a very large patent portfolio with many key fundamental patents.
What data points does the sensor capture?
Fitzpatrick: Our sensors capture metrics specific for each sport that have proven to be extremely important in improving performance. In baseball and softball, we capture:
Bat Speed — Total speed of the sweet spot of the bat at contact
Peak Bat Speed — Peak barrel speed during swing
Peak Hand Speed — Peak speed of your hands moving through contact
Time to Contact — Time from start of downswing to contact
On Plane — Percentage of total bat speed while on swing plane
Body Rotation — Rotational balance between your body rotation and bat rotation
Vertical Bat Angle — Angle of the bat at impact from the pitcher’s perspective Power — Average power generated during the swing
Blast Factor — Cumulative swing score based on power, on-plane body rotation, attack angle and peak bat speed
Our golf product captures metrics specific for putting and full swing. For putting we capture:
Backstroke Time — Time from address to top of backstroke
Forward Stroke Time — Time from top of backstroke to impact
Tempo — Ratio between backstroke and forward stroke time
Total Stroke Time — Time from start of stroke to impact
Backstroke Rotation — Rotation of the putter face during the backstroke
Forward Stroke Rotation — Rotation of the putter face during the forward stroke
Rotation Change — Difference in rotation between address and impact
Backstroke Length — Distance the putter head travels from address to the top of backstroke
Impact Stroke Speed — Speed of the sweet spot of the putter face at impact
Loft Change — Difference in loft between address and impact
Lie Change — Difference in lie angle between address and impact
For full swing we capture:
Backswing Time — Time from address to top of swing
Downswing Time — Time from top of swing to impact
Total Swing Time — Time from start of swing to impact
Swing Tempo — Ratio between backswing time and downswing time
Swing Speed — Speed of the clubhead’s sweet spot at impact
How does the sensor differ from golf to baseball?
Fitzpatrick: While the sensors for golf, baseball and softball look the same, they each have unique and specific algorithms to detect and measure different aspects of the swing. Our golf metrics are specific to golf performance, while the baseball and softball metrics are unique to those swings.
What are some overall trends you are seeing in the market?
Fitzpatrick: Five years ago, we forecasted that the intersection of sports and technology was coming. We now see this occurring in essentially every sport. It is exciting, as it will allow youth to improve rapidly, have more fun and participate longer in sports. At the more elite levels, players and coaches will have new forms of information and insights to help them improve and avoid injury. Finally, fan engagement is important for college and professional teams as well as radio and TV networks. New forms of insights will be highly engaging for viewers and make the sports more enjoyable to watch as we have been seeing in innovations like the tracer in golf, the K zone in baseball and 3D video in Basketball, just to name a few.
Do you have any partnerships?
Fitzpatrick: Today, we are the official sensor technology for MLB and NPF, and have a marketing and sales partnership with TaylorMade in golf. We also have important relationships with over 15 MLB teams and organizations like AAU and Golf Channel Academy and many others. In addition to some additional upcoming partnership announcements, we are well established in our current markets and will be moving into other sports, utilizing the same approach.
Do you see any areas of growth? Are you looking to expand into other sports?
Fitzpatrick: Blast Motion has firmly established its credibility in our current markets and we will now continue our growth into other sports and international markets. We have an exciting strategy for expanding our markets. There is a tremendous growth opportunity and we are constantly receiving requests and inquiries on expanding into other markets from market leaders.
Where do you see Blast Motion in 5 years?
Fitzpatrick: We have established ourselves as the leader in the 3 markets that we currently participate in today. Our goal is to be the leader in all markets in the years ahead. The solution that we have built is not easy to duplicate and we will not only be expanding into new markets but will also be going much deeper into the markets we currently serve. We will be introducing more exciting innovations and insights that will continue to change the sport and help youth, elite and professional athletes and teams reach their full potential. Additionally, fans want to see many of the metrics that we can create, in real time, displayed on TV broadcasts, data streaming and social media. As all sports continue the trend to allow more technology “in game”, it will be a thrill for all of us at Blast Motion to see our information being displayed as a key part of the viewer’s experience.