Motion sensing is infiltrating just about every aspect of technology these days – from TVs to game consoles to mobile devices and now even athletic equipment. With Smart TVs, gesture recognition capability enables consumers to gesture with their body, hands, face etc. and navigate a user interface without pressing any buttons on a remote control, or even without need of a remote. The same can be done today with mobile devices, particularly smartphones, and game consoles, such as Microsoft Kinect and Nintendo Wii.
Now, special sporting equipment and apparel is being developed for sports such as golf, swimming and tennis, etc. where gesture recognition and motion sensing technologies are being integrated to measure performance and provide analysis data that will help athletes track and improve their game play. An example of this growing trend is a recent partnership between leading tennis equipment manufacturer Babolat and motion sensing and data fusion technology developer, Movea. (Editor’s Note: Movea is a Racepoint Group client.) The two companies have teamed to offer the Babolat Play & Connect tennis racket, which through the integration of MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology in the racket itself, lets tennis players of all levels:
- Measure their game play from stroke type to ballspin to force of impact, etc.
- View the results on their smart phone or tablet via an application that will run on iOS, Android or Windows 8 to help improve performance
- Post their game play data and share it socially with friends, instructors and pro players
Rafael Nadal and Li Na were just a few of the professional tennis players that tested the prototype at this year’s French Open at Roland-Garros only a few weeks ago. Check out this video to see them in action.
The Babolat Play & Connect racket is the first instance where motion sensor integration and gesture recognition is in commercially available tennis equipment. Until now, tennis players have learned to play the game based on personal instruction and the look and feel of their performance. Now, they can actually see how they’re playing based on technical data analysis that shows them exactly what they’re doing, what they look like when they’re doing it and how they can improve. The super cool tennis racket is expected to be available in early 2013. To learn more, read this article in EE Times or the Wall Street Journal.
Gamers and athletes, what do you think about this new development?
A little bit about me: I begrudgingly love my iPhone. I’m having an on-again off-again fling with technology – it’s on when it’s actually useful and off when it’s just the latest way to waste time. Admittedly, I have a mobile shopping addiction problem, but am getting help. It hurts my feelings when reporters don’t respond to my amazing pitch emails, but I’m secretly envious of them, since they get to spend their days writing about cool stuff. I like piña coladas, have two kitties and am a new mom-to-be.