Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Apparatus and Method for Identifying and Analyzing Free Flight Dynamics of Moving Sports Equipment

Technology #4373

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Noel C. Perkins
Managed By
Richard Greeley
Senior Licensing Specialist, Engineering 734-936-2093
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Free-flight Dynamics of Sports Equipment

University of Michigan Researchers in the Mechanical Engineering Department have developed a technology that measures the dynamics (i.e. rotation speed) of sports equipment when in the air. The technology is also able to measure the equipment’s transition to free-flight, as well as the conditions just prior to free-flight. The technology integrates an IMU (inertial measurement unit) into the sports equipment in order to store and/or transmit the information about equipment, as well as a method for analyzing the data to determine the relevant free-flight information. A simplified IMU can be used to provide the critical information at a lower cost. This technology can serve to train users for better performance or for enhanced injury prevention through better sports equipment handling technique.

Sports Ball Motion

The transition of sports equipment to their free-flight state and the resulting dynamics are a critical part of many sports. There is a wealth of information about the rotation and dynamics at free-flight release of a sports ball from resulting rotation speeds to the torques exerted on the ball that would be incredibly valuable to players and coaches. In sports such as bowling, dynamics such as the free-flight conditions of the ball are the main aspects of the game. There is a need for a technology that can provide this information in a low cost, ball-integrated platform.

Applications and Advantages


  • Athlete performance enhancement
  • Identification of unsafe ball handling
  • Soccer, baseball, bowling, hockey, golf, basketball, softball, etc.


  • Measurement always with the ball
  • High resolution and high speed
  • Wealth of motion data