Artificial intelligence (AI) has continued to find new avenues of success over the past several years, guided by innovation that has significantly improved how it can interact with individuals. The COVID-19 saga has increased the need for AI-based solutions to help the world stay focused while in quarantine or otherwise shut off from human contact. Budding athletes with dreams of one day making it in the big leagues have found those dreams dashed, no longer able to access practices or coaches. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Enter an AI-based coach, Mustard.
Mustard is a sports technology solution that uses AI to help athletes improve their game, starting with baseball. According to the app’s developers, Mustard can analyze an athlete’s movements and offer suggestions on what needs to be changed to make improvements. While it has launched in beta mode for baseball, it will soon be adding a golf component before moving into football, which will come thanks to the involvement of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and professional football coach Tom House.
According to users, it actually works. Eddie McCartney is one of those who stands behind the app. He is a 14-year-old aspiring baseball pitcher who began using Mustard two months ago. However, he admits that it has already helped him with his motion and mechanics. What makes the app even better is that it only needs a smartphone (so it can take advantage of the camera) and it’s completely free to use.
Mustard co-founder and CEO Rocky Collis, who is also a former minor league baseball pitcher, explains, “There is not a product out like it now. This is one of the world’s all-time great coaches giving you personalized lesson plans automatically and immediately. The technology works from every camera angle… We are essentially taking what Tom House does with Nolan Ryan and Drew Brees and making it available to kids all over the world.”
Mustard is able to understand a pitcher’s actions by analyzing as little as ten throws. It can provide input for improving stride length and speed, as well as timing through the pitch. Similar results will be available for golfers when that version is rolled out sometime next year, but not before a version to help the LA Dodgers improve their plate activity is introduced. That version should be available before the end of 2020.
Adds Luke Collis, Mustard’s co-founder and head of product (as well as Rocky’s brother), “Some of the things in the app are tailored to what Tom teaches and they might be fairly unique to him. But across the board, getting out far, striding far and striding fast, that is just ground truth from anybody you ask that you will throw harder.”
Like it or not, AI has arrived and is not going away. It is inarguably one of the most useful innovations of the past several decades, and has the ability to provide assistance on a number of levels. Being able to give rising athletes a way to improve and enhance their game proves that AI has a place in society.