By Joe Lemire / Sports Business Journal
The premise of ProPlayAI is to take a task that was complicated, laborious and expensive — analyzing baseball biomechanics — and democratize it by making it accessible to players and coaches with a smartphone camera and an affordable monthly subscription.
But pitching and hitting assessments were merely the starting point for a more ambitious plan from ProPlayAI’s parent company, 3motionAI. Using the same core motion capture technology, 3motionAI is adapting its technology for analysis in other sports and in rehab settings, but its roots are in industrial ergonomics and workplace safety.
Outside of PitchAI, 3motionAI’s goal is to be a white label motion capture platform for partners through its 3DNeuroNet Engine.
“As ProPlay, we built the PitchAI app and tried to launch that as an app solution for players and coaches to use,” said 3motionAI CEO Reed Hanoun. “But as 3Motion, we’re not really building apps, as much as we’re building integration opportunities for companies who want to be front facing, who actually want to solve a problem for the marketplace through our APIs and SDKs.”
Its partners currently range from endemic baseball brands (Driveline, HitTrax, Prep Baseball Report) to those serving very different populations (PT Genie, Bridges Health, WorkSteps). The sport-specific solutions to date include baseball pitching and hitting, cricket bowling and golf and tennis swings, as well as general movement screenings.
“Whether you’re an industrial athlete, whether you’re professional athlete, the human is the human,” Hanoun said. “How you function and how you how you move, how you think, how you perform your activities of daily living — whether it’s operating a forklift, or throwing a baseball 100 miles an hour — it boils down to how we how we perform.”
Diamond Allegiance, for instance, is a baseball training app that supports a charitable foundation aiming to make the sport more accessible. It integrated with 3motionAI for functional movement assessments that input into AI algorithms based on the knowledge and experience of Clemson baseball coach Erik Bakich to give youth players recommendations.
“What we’re able to do is, through the AI technology on the camera phone, is do a full mobility and strength assessment,” Diamond Allegiance executive director Matt Gerber said. “Mom and Dad can do it in the living room with the kid. So being able to get it to anybody — you don’t have to be at a gym or have a professional with you. And then based on that mobility assessment, being able to give the kid a daily routine that includes mobility, strength-specific and baseball-specific drills to do. And then that updates on a daily basis for the player.”
In pro ball, where 3motionAI has several MLB club partners, the primary department using the technology varies considerably.
“It’s interesting, because it comes from all different areas,” said 3motionAI VP of sports integrations Zach Day, a former MLB pitcher and TrackMan executive. “Some is PD [player development], some is scouting, some is the strength and conditioning. I don’t think there’s a predominant area where this is really taken off. This is very new. A lot of homework is being done right now to on this information and how to use it.”
The tagline for 3motionAI notably is “motion intelligence — body and mind.”
One innovative use case for the technology is in measuring mental skills. On-screen instructions prompt a user to move in certain ways to evaluate cognitive-motor integration. Hanoun said the Canadian military uses it with their snipers, for example.
“We’ve got protocols and software built that can actually assess one’s brain function, and we call it our Brain Fit Score,” he said. “So we can actually measure from a tablet or from an iPhone, or soon from a web browser, your brain cognition, and telling you your ability to think and move simultaneously based on quantifiable clinical-based research data that’s been in the market for about 15 years.”
Hanoun continued, noting sports use cases as well. Someone with higher cognitive function ought to perform better. That’s a relationship 3motionAI hopes to establish as it collects more data.
“It’s one thing to know that the baseball player can throw a ball 90 miles an hour or 100 miles an hour,” he said, “but how’s his brain responding at the same time as his body’s performing?”