William “Buddy” Clark is an engineer, PhD, and tenured professor at the University of Pittsburgh. But he's a baseball player at heart. He played through high school and he passed on his love for baseball and softball to his son and two daughters, coaching them in some capacity from t-ball all the way to college.
Baseball and softball provided a foundation of the family’s life, literally, with a batting cage in their basement. He loved coaching the kids, designing games to play at the end of practice where kids could have fun, be competitive, hone their skills, and get better - without even knowing it.
THE GENESIS OF AN IDEA
As a baseball and softball dad with a desire to understand the game at a deeper level and help his kids get better, Buddy was frustrated by the bad information that was prevalent at the time. Many coaches were pushing narratives that were based on myths and they relied on the old ‘eye test’ when evaluating players. There was no data. There wasn’t a way to prove or disprove what coaches were saying.
As an engineer, Buddy had access to tools that allowed him to create something that would reveal measurable data points about a players skills with the goal of helping them understand their performance and improve. He knew kids would have more fun as a result.
SWINGTRACKER IS BORN
Buddy built his first bat sensor that measured swing data and his kids immediately became his guinea pigs. And they loved every second of it. The sensor could help identify the ideal size bat for a player and also provide objective pre-contact swing numbers for people to review. It quickly became apparent the bat sensor could arm players, parents, and coaches with a lot more information than they've ever had! As friends, teammates, and other coaches took notice and wanted access to more data & analytics, Buddy knew he was onto something.
So, Buddy took his bat sensor idea and intellectual property to PantherLabWorks, the in-house tech incubator at Pitt - and that's where he met CJ Handron, also a baseball buff, who recognized Buddy's early prototypes had commercial potential and could be a great start-up business. In 2013, combining Buddy's patents with others from the University of Michigan, they spun-out the concept into what is now Diamond Kinetics.
Rooted in science & engineering, the early Diamond Kinetics team crafted our first-generation commercially viable sensor. They built the physics engine, honed proprietary algorithms, fine-tuned hardware components, enhanced firmware, added an API for data sharing, and launched an iOS mobile app that that brought the data to life in 3D data visualization.
This was the foundation that became the Diamond Kinetics tech-stack. Over the next few years, DK became the most trusted resource for player measurement, evaluation, and development in the games of baseball and softball - used by countless individuals and organizations at all levels from youth travel and high school to college and professional teams.
In the subsequent years, DK added smart baseballs and smart softballs to the mix (PitchTracker) that was based on the same sensor technology.
To date, DK has captured and analyzed tens of millions swings and throws - helping players improve their game.
A CRISIS UNCOVERS AN INSIGHT
When COVID hit in 2020, Diamond Kinetics launched its “Play at Home” program in collaboration with USA Baseball - adding robust drill content into the app. We also rolled out a series of interactive hitting games. When we analyzed user engagement in the app during this period, we learned that youth players were spending a good bit of time in our in-app games. A LOT OF TIME, in fact. With further consumer research, we realized, kids were clamoring for an active gaming solution in the baseball & softball space that merged their real-world hitting with digital experiences that made practice more fun!
So we pivoted.
We began planning how to add experiential layers, robust content, and a game economy on top the performance platform, data, and analytics.
INTRODUCING DK 2.0
In April of 2023, we launched the new Diamond Kinetics app. Still built on the foundation of DK’s proven player development metrics, this new DK App fulfills Buddy’s goal of players having fun while they get better. Players can take real swings in virtual games like Home Run Derby, Barrel Speed Climber, and more. We added challenges and missions. And interactive Guided Hitting Sessions from trusted, knowledgeable coaches help players improve their skills using swing data and metics analysis. In turn, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association recognized the power DK brings to the table and joined forces with us as we hope to realize our shared goal of connecting more kids with the sport and growing their love of the game! Making the game more accessible and fun are key.
Now on our 4th generation of hardware and with a more robust DK App, we're opening up a whole new world of hitting experiences. Our product is meant for families. Kids love it because it's designed for them. Parents love it because they get to see their kids get better while having more fun.
Stay close. And make sure your DK+ membership is up to date! We've got really cool stuff rolling out on a regular basis and you just might be interested in what drops next.