Rapsodo's New Upgrade Brings Plenty Of Improvements
From the day Rapsodo shipped its first tracking system to a baseball team, Rapsodo GM Art Chou and his team had looked forward to this season.
Two years after Rapsodo 1.0 was released to bring hitting and pitching tracking to a variety of teams and training facilities, Rapsodo 2.0 is now shipping.
“It’s like any tech startup. You’re constantly trying to improve your tech and try to reinvent yourself. The faster you can do it the better. We probably started on 2.0 before 1.0 was even introduced. It was more like, we have 1.0, and this is good enough to get started, but we had a bunch of improvements in the pipeline we wanted to hurry up and get out,” Chou said.
Much like the first version of Rapsodo, Rapsodo 2.0 is a system that uses radar and optical tracking to provide a wide variety of information for both hitters and pitchers. The idea is that it brings much of the same technology and provides the same information that MLB teams receive in games with Trackman and Statcast, but in a more mobile device, and at a price point ($4,000 per unit) that makes it possible for college, high schools and training facilities as well as MLB organizations to purchase it.
With the new version, Rapsodo’s pitching unit has moved from behind the catcher, where it was mounted on a tripod, to a location between the catcher and pitcher. It’s equipped with an impact-proof housing to ensure that it can stand up to being hit with screaming line drives if necessary.
By moving to the new location, the Rapsodo pitching unit will be more versatile–the old system required six feet or more of space behind the catcher, which was tough fit for some facilities. The move also opened up new possibilities. Rapsodo 2.0 can now measure release points for pitchers. And pitches that miss the strike zone by a significant amount can now be measured, something that wasn’t true with the original version, which only could capture pitches that missed the strike zone by roughly a foot or less.
For hitting, the improvements are much more focused on the software and user interface. The original Rapsodo hitting unit took roughly five seconds to display the data after the ball was hit. That quickly proved to be longer than hitters or coaches wanted to wait in a batting practice setting and also meant that sometimes the next hit wouldn’t be tracked because the unit was still processing the previous hit.
“With hitting we found four to five seconds is not acceptable for BP situations. It’s more rapid fire. We had to get down to that three-second threshold, which is where hitting 2.0 is now,” Chou said.
The software and firmware improvements for Rapsodo hitting were pushed out to all Rapsodo hitting units, so owners of the original Rapsodo 1.0 hitting units are getting the benefits of the upgrade.
The upgrade for the pitching units is more involved. For owners of original pitching units, there is an $750 upgrade option available which will allow users to upgrade the original unit with the new protective housing and upgraded computing engine to bring the 1.0 units up to 2.0 standards.
For pitching, the new upgrade is also focused on providing better data through software and user interface improvements. Pitchers and coaches can now see how different pitches compare out of the hand, so pitchers can work to ensure that different pitches come out of the same “pitching tunnel.” Data has also been tweaked to ensure that it matches the ways that Statcast measures pitches. Chou said one of the biggest points of feedback Rapsodo received from MLB teams was the need to have data directly correspond to the ways Statcast/Trackman measures it so that pitchers can see a direct relationship between Statcast/Trackman and Rapsodo data.
To do that, Rapsodo has tweaked how it displays pitch breaks and has added raw break, which was not available before as well as other improvements.
“That was a direct request from MLB teams. They want to make sure the data corresponds to data coming out of Statcast, so they don’t need a translation key. They want it presented in the same manner and reference system,” Chou said.
MLB teams were asking because almost every MLB team uses Rapsodo. Rapsodo said that 28 MLB teams currently are using their devices.
Both units also now upload all information to the Internet and provides in-depth analysis of the data.
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There have been some issues with the 2.0 rollout. College and high school teams have had to wait on receiving their new units because MLB teams took first priority in shipping.
“It was a good news/bad news. We definitely underestimated the popularity. We definitely have a supply and demand issue right now. We are having trouble keeping up with demand. We had a lot of demand from MLB. All of our inventory up to now has gone to MLB teams. We are paddling like crazy to fulfill that demand,” Chou said. “It’s good overall as a company, but we understand we have customers waiting for the units. The upgrades, we’re shipping. Those are not as not as far backlogged.”
Chou said Rapsodo hoped to ship out all backorders by late February or early March.
Some of the first Rapsodo 2.0 recipients were seeing some issues with their new pitching units where some of the data seemed to not match what coaches were seeing, especially when it came to high-spin breaking balls. Coaches with multiple MLB teams said they saw some tracking problems initially, but a software update pushed in mid-February seemed to alleviate many of the problems. Rapsodo has techs out at spring training sites to help troubleshoot any issues.
Long-term, Chou said users can expect further improvements to come. Rapsodo is working on rolling out user interface customizations so coaches can tweak how much info is displayed during workouts. The machine still records all the data points, but for display purposes, they’ve found that for some users, less is more. Also Rapsodo is expected to release a mobile app before long where players can access their data.