Development

StrikeTec 1st and Only Nevada Athletic Commission Approval Broadcast Boxing Sensor wes

StrikeTec 1st and Only Nevada Athletic Commission Approval Broadcast Boxing Sensor

Becoming the 1st and only

Throughout 2014 and 2015, we had made a lot of progress on StrikeTec. We had upgraded our hardware components to faster and smaller parts,  implemented a system to track 2 fighters at the same time and we spent months traveling around working with Spike TV / Bellator MMA and DirecTV's boxing venue tracking and monitoring both training performances in preparation for the fights and the actual fight itself. Do you think you can perform under the bright lights and crowd cheers the same as you do in the comfort of your own gym?

I can tell you, it's not an easy task. My job was to make the hard work and effort given by fighters and coaches from the long days in the gym shine during the time it mattered most! This is not an easy process, it takes a lot of effort for most. I learned more from these events and opportunities than I had ever imagined. The instinct of a fighter to make them react in such an effortless motion it seemed, to the hesitation of throwing a punch and trying to pull back mid way through it.

During training, these types of hesitations are less important from the stand point of even hesitations require energy and effort which contributes to the endurance of the fighter, but during a fight a hesitation is wasted energy. You spend energy to throw a punch, but you pulled back just enough due to a split second thought process that your energy has less of an impact on the other fighter you are competing with. Resulting in it costing you endurance!

 

 

First Step : Nevada Athletic Commission Approval

The first step was a giant one. A little info for those of you who may not know. Anything related to fight night has to be approved by the states athletic commission. Each state has a separate commission that is an appointed official or group of officials, in the case of Nevada State athletic commission this group consist of eight appointed attorneys and they are very strict regarding anything related to boxing or MMA matches and Las Vegas.

It took several months of back and forth interviews and results in order to gain the trust of these officials that StrikeTec had the ability to measure accurate stats and not make a mockery of the sport, two things that I've held very close to my heart. This wasn't just my career it was my passion and I wasn't going to do anything that would jeopardize my reputation in the years I have spent developing a product that did not exist.

On February 17, 2015 I went in front of the NSAC to discuss the final verdict on whether StrikeTec would be used during the life fight or not. To be honest I had no clue that I would be on the same public hearing as Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz. I was sweating bullets! These two fighters were being punished for banned substances being used during the fight and I'm asking for permission to do something that had never been done before and could potentially be a foolish mistake.

However, the outcome was huge. I gained the trust and respect of the commission and we move forward using the technology for DirecTV's big knockout boxing venue. It was a success! I owe a huge thank you to the DirecTV's team and efforts. It was truly an honor to work with these guys.

 

 

  Stats on TV

The work we had to go through was exhausting, but the payoff was everything! For the first time in the history of the sport of boxing, the fans were able to see the speed and power of the punches that connected during the fight.

Throughout the rounds, we would delivered stats to the screen (in the “lower 3rd”) the average speed and average power of each fighters punches. Also, throughout each round we were choosing the significant punches that had seemingly impacted each fighter during the match and in between each round during the one minute rest we could show the replays with the stats for each punch. We see this all the time in training, but during the live events was really interesting to see.

Behind The Scenes

We had some unique take-aways from this opportunity. Many in which were related to the complexity of collecting the data from the sensors ringside with all of the other frequencies in the arena and delivering this data to the truck in less than 1/4 of a second.

It has to be very quick and efficient in order to produce the stats on live TV. Very little room for error! As per the performance stats, we were able to see the effects of fatigue on fighters who were calm and collected and also those fighters who brought a lot of emotion to the fight.

 

 

 

 

StrikeTec Accuracy 150 150 wes

StrikeTec Accuracy

The Science Behind StrikeTec

In 2013, I made it my goal to create a tool that could accurately measure power from all aspects of physical combat. Speed, punch pattern recognition, and force are the key stats that I wanted to display in a way that can be easy for the user to understand.

In order to make this possible, I consulted with Wayne State University to run the first phase of testing for what would soon be the official StrikeTec sensors. The university lab had worked on many major projects such as, testing helmet structure and safety for the NFL as well as running high-speed crash tests for car manufacturers like GM.

As we began the early phases of testing, we focused on a specific device in the facility called the punch piston. The punch piston helped to give us a consistent speed, compression, and acceleration time to get a more accurate reading of the power behind punches and kicks compared the numbers that were generated by athletes and beginners beforehand. Ultimately, we were trying to measure what impact the force would have on a person's head and tested it out on crash test dummies (Anthropomorphic Test Device).

The importance of understanding the effects of the force of a punch is directly related to what is ultimately happening during a boxing match. Force can be measured not only by sheer power from fighter A, but by the effect it has on fighter B. What type of “damage” did it cause?

By replicating these tests over and over again, we started to find patterns that allowed us to find traits that related to either power or force. After spending much of my time in other labs, I realized that to study hundreds of thousands of strikes and to gather more data I needed focus the teams full attention to this research. It was time to build our own lab!

The StrikeTec Lab

After traveling to different labs and facilities with unique testing devices, I decided that our in house engineers needed a space to conduct research at any time. I purchased all of the necessary equipment from high-speed cameras to software tracking devices so that we could quickly start analyzing the difference between athletes and non athletes of all skill sets.

One thing that I should mention upfront is that speed and acceleration are relatively easy data points to derive from accelerometers and gyros. The really tricky part would be measuring power, accurately and consistently during an impact that happens within milliseconds all while moving through a 3 Dimensional Flight Path. I'll start by addressing the power phenomena.

Mathematics of Unknown Object Mass

I have heard many times that you cannot measure power because Force = Mass x Acceleration and the Mass of the object is always unknown. Although I agree with the complexity of this task, I do not agree with the phrase “you cannot”. I can and we did and we are getting better and better at it each year.

So how do we accomplish this? It wasn't easy and it's taken years of measuring strikes from beginner's all the way up to the most elite athletes that we could and even now can get our hands on.

Power is very tricky to measure when it comes to the effects of momentum, elastic and inelastic collisions, but one of the most important things skill set. You can imagine a more technically skilled fighter would be able to generate more mass into their strike do to their shift in body weight. Also, a more experienced fighter will often have more of a follow through than a beginner fighter. This is deceiving and its a common mistake others are making on the market today. Do not mistake a High G impact with Power/Force. A beginner that punches a hard bag and stops suddenly, will generate a massive amount of G-Force.

By taking two people who have the same weight and studying the differences in their acceleration, impact, follow-through, punch return. There are two main phases of an impact- Compression and restitution. Compression is the moment the punch meets the object and presses forward.


Restitution is the phase in which the punch has come to a stop and begins the return. There were some great findings while studying athletes of all shapes, sizes and skillsets within these phases. More advanced strikers would have a greater compression along with a faster restitution and it stayed relatively consistent even during the fatigue process.

Although the punches have slowed down there was a similar technique that continued throughout these two phases. I'll break down this process in more detail on
another blog because it can be quite lengthy.

Variations in Testing Mechanisms

There are flaws in nearly every testing apparatus, the load cells often vary based on what the cell is attached to and what type of padding is in front of the cell along with the deterioration of either of these. If the object holding these are an old bag versus a new bag or a wall versus a pillow it makes quite a difference in the consistency of the stats.

High-speed cameras tend to have a blur while tracking the glove so you have to make adjustments with specific points on the glove and lighting to keep a good consistent result. Photocells are relatively inexpensive and can be a great tool to measuring punch speed, but there are some slight variances when measuring punches or kicks with an arc like a hook or an uppercut along with many types of kicks. I still think it's a blast to play with photocells and timers as we would often hold competitions in the lab to make the long hours fun and energetic.