Babolat play and connect – data from your tennis racket

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Babolat announced last week that they are developing a tennis racket, prototype to be shown first at the Roland Garros, that will store data about your swing and “flow”. They released very little else about its capabilities, but Eric Babolat, CEO, commented:

“Innovation is only valuable if it advances the game of tennis to the benefit of the greatest number of people, in 1875, Babolat invented the first strings for tennis racquets. More than 135 years of innovation and progress later, I am proud to present today our vision of the tennis of tomorrow, brought by our Play & Connect racquet.”

Babolat play and connect tennis racket

The planned launch date is 2013, so hopefully we will hear more about it then, but if the sensors integrated are similar to accelerometers then we can expect positional, velocity and acceleration data of the racket during use. It will be interesting to see how they separate a stroke with general play (probably through the accelerations and velocity), how they average the data over a particular stroke (so will it tell us the speed of a forehand smash, baseline shot, dropshot?), how the data will be presented to the public in a meaningful way (is it better to hit it faster? I doubt it because the racket would need to go at a specific speed to hit the baseline, any faster and it would overshoot) and how this will affect performance characteristics such as weight, vibration, sound and so on. Sensors will soon be in every sports product we use, but the hardest part is making sense of the data which is extracted. Sometimes position, power and speed are not necessarily the key parameters to look for. Understanding Babolat’s vision for the “flow of data” is intriguing and I am interested as to the market – competition or training. Would people buy a training racket? I don’t know but looking forward to finding out.

Article by Bryan Roberts

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 7:37 pm and is filed under Bryan Roberts, Tennis. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There has been 3 responses to “Babolat play and connect – data from your tennis racket”

  1. Tom P says:

    Bryan. You make an extremely valid point about the usefulness of the data and what it’s going to be able to tell you about your shot or play. As I’m sure you know better than anyone else, and any Formula 1 engineer will attest, the real insight from all this data won’t come from only looking at one source e.g. the racket or the golf club head, but from understanding the various interactions between equipment, athlete body positioning and even geo-spatial positioning; on court, course or track. All these elements are increasingly finding their way into sport – some such as cycling and rugby are more advanced then others but developing the software or analytic tools will be interesting as will the new performance indicators that will undoubtedly evolve because they can be accurately measured.

    • admin says:

      Hi Tom, very insightful comment. Knowledge about sports performance and biomechanics can only progress with advances in technology. For example we knew nothing of the interaction between ball and boot, until the advent of high speed cameras. In this instance, I think monitoring of the racket will be more helpful to the scientist and racket head designer rather than the player. However, I have not seen the interface or how the data is portrayed. Nike do a lovely job of taking complicated data, such as accelerometers in the Nike+, and converting that to “relatively” meaningful data for the consumer. If Babolat have done the same then I am looking forward to it. Thanks Tom for your comment and please keep reading! Bryan

  2. Shaun says:

    Its an exciting prospect to have a racket capable of measuring swing speed, serve speed, ground stroke speed, top spin RPM’s and ball contact to sweet spot proximity data. I think if Babolat are able to filter bad data from useful data, this product is going to be a real winner just like the iphone was to the smart phone industry. At this point though i can’t see how the racket would be able to filter out junk data.. ie.. the rackets casual motion while in a players hands as opposed to data generated from a swing towards a ball. Can’t wait for Babolat to release more details and im sure Wilson, Head, Prince etc will follow closely with their own launch.

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