Dr. Hichem Frigui Hits Grand Slam with Pitcher Steve Stemle and his Lokator Pitching App

December 4, 2017

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Steve Stemle needed to develop his Lokator Pitching Academic, an app that provides analytics to prospective pitchers, while teaching pitch command, selection, and sequencing, he turned to Dr. Hichem Frigui. His research involves multimedia data analysis, machine learning, big data, information fusion, landmine and IED detection, and video analysis for surveillance, with degrees in Computer and Electrical Engineering, all from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Hitting It Off

It was that background that inspired a former graduate student of Frigui to introduce the two. For Stemle, Lokator is a startup company, one that Frigui found as an intriguing challenge. While there are comparable systems available for the NBA or other sporting events, those programs rely on hardware, whereas Stemle and Frigui are working on a software application.

“The competitive market, they rely more on hardware." said Frigui. "You can tell where things are, but it’s expensive. But everyone has a phone.”

The Assist

While Stemle calls the plays, it’s Frigui and his team that work to realize that vision. Frigui receives videos that he uses to collect data, calculating speed, accuracy, and a number of other targets to assess accuracy. Utilizing smart phone recordings placed into the Lokator app, the information captured used as a diagnostic tool for pitchers to have more exact detail to work on improving their game.

The app has evolved to include that information, originally focusing on accuracy. The plate is sectioned off into zones, which the pitcher targets based on their strategy. Unfortunately, given the speed of the ball, which can be upwards of 80-90 mph, the data was often obscured. Frigui and his team have adjusted the app to compensate for those discrepancies.

“You put the phone on a tripod and it will record the pitching session. What we do is we take the video and we’ll track every pitch," Frigui said. "We’ll know when the ball left the pitcher’s hand and track the ball all the way until it hit the target. You will have the path of the ball.”

Beyond a diagnostic tool, Stemle hopes to build a directory of pitching stats for future use.

“That’s the big thing that Steve is counting on, you can have a database that has profiles of pitchers," Frigui said. "Right now, the only thing you can measure is speed. We measure that too, so we do know the speed of the ball. Now you have all the information for the pitcher. You have more measures to evaluate and rank pitchers.”