World’s first wearable technology for cricket
CricFlex is an add-on device for a passionate player’s gear bag. It indulges technology at a personal level for cricketers which has not been achieved before.
Cricket the passion of controversies
Cricket is a tremendously popular sport in the South Asia region. Which can be compared to the western soccer or football in terms of zeal and zest among the local population. It is a complex game with several rules and regulations that require strict check and balance. An umpire is present in the field that takes the measure of legality of the game and is empowered to impose any legal penalty to the playing teams in case of an illicit activity. Moreover, any member of the playing teams can appeal to the umpire for unaccounted activity. Some arguable activities includes tempering with the ball or pitch, use of abusive language, dubious scoring and unconventional bowling techniques or illegal bowling action.
In cricket, there are active and passive players on the field. The active players belong to opposing teams that is a bowler and a batsman. The bowler must throw a ball and try to knock off some stumps, while the batsman should defend the stumps. The passive players are to support the continuation of the game. Nevertheless, cricket laws are applied to everyone in the field.
One of the rule in cricket is that the bowler can only throw the ball at a certain angle with respect to their body and keeping their elbow joint straight. In other words, all the force of throwing the ball should come from the shoulder. There is some measure to leniency in this rule but it is very thin.
Cricket has suffered quite some loss because of the violation of this rule. Including well-known names like Shoaib Akhter. The problem with this rule is that the umpires rely on their naked eye to judge if a bowling action is illegal. Moreover, even if the claim is verified later on — using advanced techniques like imaging — it costs a career in changing one’s blowing style and correct the error. Due to lack of access to expensive bowling quantifying equipment, many give up their passion.
In 2016, a group of passionate young Pakistani students came up with an unconventional and inexpensive solution to the problem at hand. They introduced a wearable technology which can help bowlers, at individual levels, in keeping track of their bowling action. All they have to do is wear an arm sleeve equipped with sensors that tracks their bowling speed and action. Hence, allowing them to make adjustments on they fly.
The underdogs from a developing country
Cricflex started its journey in Islamabad. Abdullah Ahmed, the CEO, came up with this idea as a course project and later on took the mental to bring it in the market.
The unique aspect about their struggle is the environment they grew up in. Pakistan is a struggling nation with many challenges at hand. The falling economy has rendered it difficult for foreign investments to come through, while the local investors cannot support a startup ecosystem. With less investments and low ground to prove, the Cricflex team took it to the international stage.
They proved the technology is worthwhile at a conference at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and secured a United States patent the same year. To go against the tide and believing in their own creation gave them a fighting chance.
The press was impressed by the show this group had pulled off but their problems were starting.
… perhaps [due to CricFlex] cricket is about to get more than its toes wet.
They had to put in order a production line and secure enough pre-orders to make a mark. Moreover, production lines in Pakistan were not cheap. The country had a declining industry and manufacturing was expensive.
They took their idea to a government fund and secured enough to setup their lab. For manufacturing they had to visit China. Where they made a contract with a local manufacturer for producing prototypes. Despite all the odds they managed to keep their dream alive.
What’s so special?
CricFlex is still in its inception stages, yet has been able to get enough attention. In entrepreneurship one of the key ingredients is resilience. This team has shown time and time again that they are willing to put themselves through all odds just for the fruition of their idea.
Another unique factor in their team is to challenge the norm. Many start-ups make the mistake of selling quick in the market and producing low quality products. This haste puts their brand name into question. However, the CricFlex team took their time in finding the right components for their product, while giving zero compromise on quality. Not selling too cheap and neither going premium expensive. They have developed this attitude of welcoming challenges instead of sweeping them under the rug.
In my point of view, these people are making all the right moves. And I am looking forward to how they grow into something amazing.