RSPCT Adapts Rifle Sharpshooting Technology to Basketball
When Israeli sharpshooter Oren Moravchik competed in international events, he would lie prone with his rifle next to a monitor that relayed precise information about where on a target his previous shot had hit. This allowed Moravchik to make immediate adjustments before pulling the trigger again.
He and his brother, Lior (Leo) Moravtchik, were also basketball fanatics who used to wake up at 3 a.m. in Israel to watch NBA games on TV. And now, on road trips across the U.S., they pass the time counting how many hoops they can spot in backyards, driveways, and playgrounds.
The brothers are now cofounders of RSPCT, a company that applies similar tracking technology from rifle shooting to basketball. Their shot tracker, which harnesses Intel’s RealSense Depth Camera for 3D imagery, is now in use by seven NBA teams, including the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers. The technology was also featured during the NBA All-Star Game’s Three-Point Contest.
“If you have a screen, then you can find the flaws in practice, go to competition, go back to practice, and find out what really works,” said Oren Moravchik, who is now RSPCT’s CEO. “If you had good methodologies, you can do amazing stuff.”
The RealSense camera is a portable device typically installed behind a glass backboard (although it can be placed on top of opaque backboards). It helps identify the precise location where the center of a basketball swishes through the hoop or bounces off the rim. Intel has been receptive to this innovative application of its technology, and its development team has been collaborating with the brothers’ company.
RSPCT, which stands for Real Shooting Percentage, tracks the arc of a shot and creates scatter plots of where the ball lands. An off-center grouping suggests that a player needs to make a small adjustment. Many seasoned coaches can already detect even the slightest error in finger pressure, Oren said, but this rapid, objective feedback is a new data source that can help players make changes efficiently.
In demonstrations, Oren said they’ll have a player take a series of shots as normal, then check the machine, and try again. Inevitably the player posts a better percentage after making an adjustment. That’s only possible, however, if the data is communicated clearly and succinctly. That’s the technical challenge RSPCT faces in analyzing the information collected from the Intel device.
“We need to get to the easiest possible explanation, the one-line insight,” Lior, RSPCT’s COO, said.
As more shots are taken with the system, the aggregate data collected might indicate certain trends about ideal arc or power in shooting from different spots on the court. But the most important composite data will be an individual’s own history.
“The optimal technique is per player, per position, per location,” Oren said.
Lior’s background is in industrial engineering with stints at SAP and the Israeli Ministry of Health. Oren has experience in computer engineering and has an MBA from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology. (Though they are brothers, their last names are spelled differently: Oren Moravchik and Leo Moravtchik.)
The brothers credit RSPCT’s rapid growth as a company in part due to the connections and hires they’ve made. CTO Oren Sadeh is a talented engineer who worked at Cisco, among other companies. Among RSCPT’s advisers are former Catapult executive Brian Kopp, Replay Technologies’ Oren Yogev (whose freeD technology was acquired by Intel), and Gal Oz, a cofounder of both SportVu and Pixellot. The burgeoning Tel Aviv tech scene helped connect RSPCT with Yogev and Oz as well as with WSC Sports, whose team introduced RSPCT to the NBA league office.
Part of the company’s growth in the elite market has come through RSPCT’s partnership with Kinexon, the NBA’s most widely used wearable. The two companies met at the NBA scouting combine in 2017, then spent several days integrating their technologies so that a player’s location data on the court from Kinexon can be synced with RSPCT’s shot tracking.
“Their system knows where the ball is coming from, and we know who is where at that specific point of time, so we can automate the whole shooting,” Mehdi Bentanfous, Kinexon’s managing director of U.S. operations, said.
The only necessary hardware for RSPCT is the RealSense device, and Lior said setup can be done quickly. That has enabled not only colleges but also high schools to buy in. The brothers’ hope is that, some day when playing their hoop counting game, they’ll see the RSPCT system on each.
“We’ll put a system on every basket,” Oren said.