Have you ever wondered what it would be like to bat against a Boston Red Sox or a New York Yankee pitcher? For longtime Toronto Blue Jays fan Joshua Pope, this question was always on his mind.

Right after Pope graduated from college, he made his dream into a reality and founded Trajekt Sports and created the first intelligent pitching robot Trajekt Arc.

Co-founder of Onshape Jon Hirschtick interviewed Pope in the thirteenth episode of the Masters of Engineering podcast and to find out how he started his company and developed the innovative technology that MLB teams are training with today. 

The Innovative Technology Pushing MLB Teams to New Levels

Pope always had a passion for sports, especially baseball. While he was watching a game with a few friends he asked, “Why isn’t there a machine where you can just program in Marcus Strowman and practice against him?”

Existing pitching machines could control the ball’s velocity, five degrees of freedom, and a two-dimensional axis spin, but Pope wanted more. With websites like TrackMan and YakkerTech and every game being filmed and broadcasted on television, Pope saw that there was an abundant amount of data to create his product.

After 12 iterations of prototyping, Pope and his team created Trajekt Arc. 

A demonstration of the Trajekt Arc pitching with a lefty and a righty pitcher. (TrajektSports.com)

Trajekt Arc uses photo data and pitching data to display video of pitchers taking their signature throws while the machine delivers the perfect speed, ball orientation, and gyrospin directly to the batter. MLB players can now train against real opponents and better prepare themselves for the game. 

The first machine was delivered to an MLB club in 2020 spring training. The team liked the product and decided to lease two machines from Trajekt for their main stadium and their AAA facility.

What’s the Difference Between Biomedical Engineering and Baseball? 

Although Pope is making waves in the sports technology world, he’s only three years out of college. Pope graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2019. 

While he was in college, he worked at a hospital doing neurophysiology research and developed a strong interest in understanding the brain and how it works. 

Trajekt Arc Explainer Video“Trajekt Arc Explainer Video” demonstrates the benefits of Trajekt Arc on the players’ brains. (TrajektSports.com)

“One of the things I learned through my research is that our brains are pattern-matching machines,” Pope said. “And that relates to the product because the more times that you see a given pitcher, the better your performance will be.”

Using his knowledge of neuroscience, Pope was able to understand how baseball players think, see, and act during the game to improve his product even more. 

The Future is Getting Faster

Pope wants to push the boundaries of baseball as far as they can go, and he believes that Trajekt Arc can bring players to the next level. 

“One of the goals of Trajekt is to push the boundaries of human performance and figure out what is that upper bound?” Pope said,  “How good can humans become at hitting 95 miles per hour balls with various types of spin.” 

In addition to players getting better at batting, he’s also excited to see what the public can do with Trajekt Arc. One of his future goals is to bring the machine to recreational facilities, batting cages, and even MLB stadiums for the audience to practice on while watching games. 

More Masters of Engineering

To learn more about Trajekt Arc, subscribe to the Masters of Engineering podcast. The podcast is available on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and any of your favorite podcast-streaming services. 

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