More than 20 per cent of the world’s population plays sports every day, including badminton. Sports are a big part of our life. However, sports has been played the same way for generations, completely untouched by technology.
Matchday AI, a company founded in 2019 by two Hyderabad-based techies, Harsha Vardhan and Ganesh Yaparla, is promising to change this.
Matchday AI has closely tied up with IIIT-Hyderabad, where they have developed a cutting-edge AI algorithm that can change the way sports is experienced. They have been working closely with Pullela Gopichand since its inception. The chief national badminton coach was blown away by the vision of the team, and hence joined the startup as a co-founder.
Pullela Gopichand is quite impressed by the new technology and is confident that it will play a big role in developing the overall standard of the game.
“This technology can be really useful for players of all levels to get better and can really make a huge impact on the sport. We have recognized that the younger generation is different in the way they connect and communicate with one another and the way they set out to achieve their goals. Adding to that, parents today are also more eager for their children to participate in sports and want to closely monitor their child’s progress,” said Gopichand.
So impressed by the new technology, the 2001 All England champion has installed it at his Hyderabad-based Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy. He believes it will help the players and coaches monitor their progress.
“Recognizing these trends, Matchday AI has built a product through which badminton players can track how their game is improving using real, hard data. Coaches will also be able to use this data to better understand an individual’s game and cater to their specific needs. Parents too will find it a useful tool to track their children’s game and also watch their kids’ matches without having to be present on the court,” said Gopichand.
Co-founder Harsha Vardhan said they have been receiving overwhelming responses from players and coaches alike. Several badminton academies in India have been using this technology.
“We are getting good responses from everyone. We have installed the system in several academies in India. We are also getting inquiries from other countries, especially European nations. They want to use the new technology to boost their badminton structure,” said Harsha Vardhan.
Explaining the method of operations, Harsha Vardhan said it is very simple and only one camera on the top of the badminton court does everything.
Installation and subscription of badminton players is affordable for everyone: Harsha Vardhan
Cameras have to be placed at a sufficient height on the court for good results. After installing at several academies, we take a monthly subscription from the players for their benefit.
“We are charging a nominal fee from the players. He or she has to pay a monthly subscription fee. It is quite affordable. Even in tournaments we have used this technology quite effectively. In the future, we are planning to use this technology in all the Badminton Association of India (BAI) tournaments after getting their approvals,” said Harsha Vardhan.
It gives an overview, game analytics and video analytics. It will tell you everything about the match like average rally length, match intensity, longest rally, total number of shots.
It also gives feedback on winning streaks, biggest comebacks and biggest leads. In the players’ stats, it tells you about the winners and errors. The minute details about a player's performance in the match like straight shots, cross shots, attacking shots, defensive shots, short serve and long serve can be acquired.
Gopichand said more and more players are interested in using this product to analyze their game and subsequently improve their performance.
“Gone are the days where match stats, analysis and videos are only available for the professional category of players. Now with AI, amateur athletes can train and grow using the same tools that are used by the best in the business at a very affordable price point. More than 200 players have already used this product and we are getting great feedback from players, coaches and parents alike. Professional players from all over the world are also highly interested in our product,” said Gopichand.
Players will also be able to compare themselves and compete with the rest of the badminton community. So a player playing in Hyderabad will be able to compare themselves with players playing in Delhi or even Denmark. Through this product we can truly make sports tech enabled and better suited to the needs of the mobile generation.
“Personally, I am convinced that this is the next big step for the development of the sport and I am very excited to be a part of this. Hyderabad has already produced a lot of champion players, now we are on the cusp of also producing a great new innovation that can really disrupt badminton and also sports globally,” added Gopichand.
The competition in badminton is getting tougher day by day and use of technology is definitely an option for the overall development of the players.