The unstoppable march of sensors, computers chips and Internet connections into our everyday devices continues. Basketballs, smoke detectors, watches and now tennis rackets. If you’re still playing with an old-school wooden racket, it’s about to seem even more out of date.
The French company Babolat has released a $399 racket with sensors in the handle to track a player’s performance. The data collected includes shot power, the type of stroke, spin and whether a shot is hit on the sweet spot of a racket. The information is transmitted via Bluetooth to a player’s smartphone.
A player who might be working on hitting more topspin forehands — or adding more power to their backhand — could track their progress in real time. The battery in the racket will last five to six hours before needing to be recharged.
“For me it was incredible, that you can take the No. 1 tennis player in the world and see that he doesn’t really know anything about what is happening in his racket, apart from his feel,” Babolat chief executive Eric Babolat told Reuters. “He has no data about anything, and it is incredible to imagine. It is like you are a Formula One driver and you don’t know how fast you are driving.”
He also said he expects professional players to use the rackets in matches in the comings weeks.
International Tennis Federation rules allow player analysis technology, provided that the use of it doesn’t violate its restrictions on coaching within matches.
— Thomas Otton (@thomasotton) May 7, 2014