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Smart Racquets Could Transform Tennis

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the more-data-to-assist-tennis-bots dept.

Hardware 64

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "L. J. Rick reports at BBC that Babolat has released a tennis racket with gyroscopes, accelerometers, and a piezoelectric sensor in the handle that can assess your every shot, sensing where the ball strikes the racquet and the quality of the contact. ... The sensor can gather data such as ball speed, accuracy, and angle, and will pair the info with devices over Bluetooth or USB. 'We integrated sensors inside the handle of the racquet, but it does not change the specification. And these sensors will analyze your tennis game, so your swing — your motion — and all this information will be collected by the racquet,' says Gael Moureaux. The International Tennis Federation, aware of the growing influx of hi-tech equipment into the sport, has set up a program called Player Analysis Technology (PAT) to regulate such 'virtual coaches' as the Babolat racquet. The governing body wants to be calling the shots on where and how innovation can be used, as in the past it has found itself having to ban some products like the so-called 'spaghetti-strung' racquets (with double stringing that are already on the market and in use. In conjunction with its PAT approval program, the ITF has also brought in a new rule — Rule 31 — to reflect the growing use of connected equipment, and its possible role in tournament play. Approved devices need to be secure and protected against unauthorized access, to prevent 'sporting espionage' whereby data could be stolen. Knowing when an opponent's right hand gets tired during the second set would be a huge advantage. Despite the innovations, one trainer does not think he is in danger of being upstaged by a smart racquet. 'I think that it's great for feedback but you still need someone to analyze it,' says tennis coach says Nik Snapes. 'At the end of the day it's the practice and the ability of someone that makes the player, not necessarily the equipment in their hand.'"

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Yeah, but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089065)

Can it analyze this first post?

easier solution (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089083)

Just put a robot on either side of the fence and let them hit shots backwards and forwards with 100% accuracy. Then try and work out where the audience disappears to.

Re:easier solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089099)

Just put a robot on either side of the fence and let them hit shots backwards and forwards with 100% accuracy. Then try and work out where the audience disappears to.

Just make sure the robots grunt loudly every time they hit the ball. Some of those tennis scream queens can hit over a hundred decibels.

Re:easier solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089285)

Robots playing? Does the robotized crowd watching the game aren't enough? I think those improvements are good, but will it create better players? Just look what happened with Formula-1... Some drivers can't figure out how it was to drive some cars from the past, just because it had a manual gear box that demanded the driver to take one hands out from the steering wheel. This feature will help creating better tennis rackets and other sports accessories as well, but for tech sportsmanship enthusiasts only. The novice player will look cool, but it will remain a rookie playing with an wireless yo-yo.

Re:easier solution (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#46091965)

But if only robots are playing, all that collected data will be useless to the NSA...

Smartlink? (1)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 9 months ago | (#46089097)

So this is basically Smartlink [wikia.com] , but for tennis.

Re:Smartlink? (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about 9 months ago | (#46089167)

Or, Tennis of things.

Re:Smartlink? (5, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#46089213)

Why not? Tennis has always been about sending stuff over the net.

Thankyouverymuch!

Re:Smartlink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089249)

Except this would TRANSFORM tennis, so maybe the stuff is send UNDER the net, now?

Wrong attribution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089117)

The reporter is called LJ Rich not LJ Rick :-)

./ editors, you had one job! One job! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089211)

It's LJ Rich.

Re: ./ editors, you had one job! One job! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089549)

)

There, I solved that one for them too.

Re: ./ editors, you had one job! One job! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46090833)

Thank you! That one really bugged me.

"the ITF has also brought in a new rule — Ru (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089245)

> the ITF has also brought in a new rule — Rule 31
Only 3 to go...

Re:"the ITF has also brought in a new rule — (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 9 months ago | (#46089341)

I think they'll probably skip rule 34 like some hotels skip room 13.

Otherwise there would be too much confusion as rule 34 already exists and, unsurprisingly, indeed applies to tennis racquets.

Re: "the ITF has also brought in a new rule &mdash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089519)

True. The fetishness over racquets that i se on the court! Of course, we all swing both ways.

I'd go the other way in all sports (2)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 months ago | (#46089301)

Get rid of ALL electronic aids. Any technology should be purely materials though I'd be tempted to limit those too. I know money talks but it would be nice if just occasionally the people running various sporting bodies remembered that its supposed to be about man (or woman) against man.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089305)

Then how would we play Rollerball?

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (2)

chenjeru (916013) | about 9 months ago | (#46089349)

If you want to ban this, then you may as well also ban coaches and training. This is not an electronic aid that directly alters performance, it is a tool for analysis of performance.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#46090171)

It wasn't clear to me if they wanted to ban them outright, or just ban them during competitive play. Banning them outright seems ludicrous. It would be similar to outlawing power-meters for cyclists. I mean, you could probably collect similar data using some high speed cameras, and computer tracking software. Although this would probably be a much more complex method of getting at the same data.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 9 months ago | (#46089397)

Are you really suggesting that we should ban the use of radios, navigation aids and safety things in long-duration yacht racing (e.g. Sydney to Hobart)? Or that we ban electronics in F1 cars and go back to the days when the cars had to be started with a hand-crank?
Although your point about materials makes sense in light of the whole furor over those special bodysuits they had in swimming for a while.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 months ago | (#46089551)

I'm talking about real sports , not rich boys niche activities. But obviously if machinery is required then that changes things.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 9 months ago | (#46090097)

Navigation aids would make things interesting. Dead reckoning and celestial navigation both give results that improve a lot with skill. Everybody could have a GPS on board in a tamper proof container that they can crack open if they get in trouble, but it forfeits the race.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

jabuzz (182671) | about 9 months ago | (#46091091)

I have this concept of GPS in every boat, coupled with rudder angle sensors, boom angle sensors, wind angle sensors and digital compasses all coupled with GPS in the buoys and a radio network sending all this information back to a central computer and you could implement a "HawkeEye" for sailing. Some indicator lights on the boat to indicate that you have received a penalty and you could cut out all the appeals and other crap.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 9 months ago | (#46093943)

Sure, for officiating, why not? Like using cameras for refereeing.

But if you've got all those sensors, some actuators to go along with them, and no rules to prevent it, you could just let that central computer run the whole boat. No need for a crew. Best code wins.

Or go the other way. No GPS available to the crew, no weather reports or satellite imagery (except for emergency messages everyone gets), etc. Winner is the one who read the weather, navigated, and sailed the best.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089521)

Vic Braden used high speed photography in the 80's. This is being delivered to everyone, finally, to help them enjoy the sport.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 9 months ago | (#46089665)

In HS swimming, Coaches can use smart phones to record split times and share them with other coaches, but swimmers can't have timers embedded in their goggles to help them check their pace during a race. Learning aids are OK be competition aids are not. Probably this new technology could be used in a like manner.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#46090297)

On the flip side, cyclists use speedometers (and more advanced performance tracking) during competition. Marathon runners most certainly use at least a wrist watch to track their progress, if not using something more advanced. It becomes more important in longer events to tack your time.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46090371)

It becomes more important in longer events to track your time.

It certainly makes a difference to triathletes. The pros might only need a watch to track time, but a lot of the rest of us can greatly benefit from watch + heart rate monitor during races.

The watch is the most important part, however: triathletes need to remember to refuel while in the race. Usually we time it for every 5, 10, or 15 minutes, depending on the segment we're in. Not refueling precisely and adequately can take a triathlete down from a good race time to a DNF (did not finish), depending on the length of the race.

It's probably unnecessary for sprint distance tris, but for half- and full-Ironman distance the watch is worth its weight in gold. (Most triathletes can probably benefit from the watch during Olympic distance tris, as they will come in around 2-2.5 hours.)

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (0)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 months ago | (#46091283)

"benefit from watch + heart rate monitor during races."

Why do you need to monitor your heart? Don't you trust it to manage itself?

"remember to refuel"

Is that 733t speak for drinking something?

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46092193)

You heart rate is a good indicator of how hard you are exercising, monitoring it can help you pace yourself better.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 months ago | (#46098213)

Are you seriously telling me that some people can't tell how hard their exercising?? Wtf??

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46121283)

You have a rough idea, sure, but surely you can't tell exactly how hard you are exercising.

I have used heart-rate monitors. I find them very useful while cycling, especially with the stop-start nature of cycling in a city, for me if my heart-rate ~180bpm I can keep going for a good half-hour or so (I haven't really tested the max time I can keep that rate up), if it goes over 190 then I'll quickly wear myself out, but I can keep that rate up for several minutes before I realise I'm exercising too hard, and if my heart-rate goes under 170 I know I can put more effort in, but again sometimes it can take a while for me to realise I'm not exercising hard enough.

They aren't essential, I haven't bothered to wear one for years even though I exercise regularly, but for me at least they do help.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 9 months ago | (#46091677)

Yes, it did wonders for Formula 1. From most popular motor sport to boring snorefest nobody watches in ~15 years.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#46092013)

I've got one simple rule to make F1 fun again:
  - Start grid is reverse of championship order (random for ties)

Because what's boring is that the guy with the best car starts first, leads the whole way, and wins, and the second fastest car starts second, follows, and gets on the podium.
Make them fight for every spot! I'll watch!

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 9 months ago | (#46093381)

Cant do that, passing is sooo dangerous, just as changing tires and fueling is. Corners are also dangerous, but we cant figure out a way to get rid of them (yet).

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 months ago | (#46098311)

It was just as boring 15 years ago WITH all the electronics. The best era was the 60s and 70s when the only electronics was in the main clock.

Re:I'd go the other way in all sports (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 9 months ago | (#46107301)

F1 got castrated after Senna died, it was gradually getting worse and worse, I finally stopped watching 5 years ago.

water rationing on both coasts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089307)

water water everywhere rations are for regimes

assassin nation ration speech coming up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089325)

ask as many questions as you like to hear lies about. call-in has been cancelled due to overwhelming angry byrd backlash

Nice Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089323)

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More useful for pros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089495)

I think this will be more useful for pro's, which is a much smaller market than beginners and intermediates. Any good tennis coach/player can tell what is wrong with a player's hit, etc - usually it's something egregious or more prominent that is easily spotted.

genocidal psychopaths get free air time 24/7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089535)

starving infants get nothing at all,,, everyone else (all of us) must pay for 'it' including being spiritually paralyzed with no coverage

Where have I heard this before? (1)

paiute (550198) | about 9 months ago | (#46089583)

"At the end of the day it's the practice and the ability of someone that makes the player, not necessarily the equipment in their hand.'"

Oh yeah - your mom said that.

Amateurs (2)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 9 months ago | (#46089699)

This is great news for amateur players who can't afford to hire a personal coach.

Re:Amateurs (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 9 months ago | (#46091673)

I actually already know I suck, so I don't need my racket to tell me this also. Can't a guy catch a break?

Disclaimer: I don't play tennis really. (But if I did... )

Min-Maxing is Killing Us (3, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 9 months ago | (#46089823)

Min-Maxing like this is destroying our society. Sure, you can spend time straining data to improve your tennis game. But you will either do one of two things:

1) Develop a significant improvement, whihc then forces all other players to jump on the bandwagon of diminishing returns technological statistics to stay competative, driving up the costs and time involved in playing the game or
2) Fail to develop any significant improvement, in which case everyone will still chase these developments but the time and money spent will simply be a complete waste of everyone's time verses mostly being a waste.

In either case, you will certainly have:

A) Ruined the game of tennis for pretty much everyone who plays it.

This is what happens when you Min-Max games, work, life, anything. Sure, you might win. Sure your might improve play. But you will ruin whatever it is you are min-maxing. Somehow, someway, the costs you have added to the activity will end up being bourne by someone.

Min-maxing isn't actually concrete progress. Nothing new or significant is being created here. It's just a reallocation of exisiting finite resources to "win" at a game, or job, or activity of any kind which is still the same. Everyone thinks so much inside the box that they end up breaking it without ever dreaming what life would be like outside the box, or without the box entirely. The quintessential example of this is the computerisation arms races in modern finance.

If you invent a new chemical polymer, or a new aerospace rocket, a new software algorithm, or hell a new kind of sports game, you are actually making progress, advancing humanity however slightly. If you spend all day trying to gain a technological edge in tennis, or shave off a few microcents in the stock market, then you are part of the growing legion of hamster-wheelers, running the world ragged by optimising within constraints instead of finding ways to break out of those constraints entirely.

But (2)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 9 months ago | (#46089829)

Will it stop the ridiculous screaming? It really makes it comical and unbearable to watch.

Re:But (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46090015)

It had better not; that is why I watch Tennis in the first place. There's also the outside chance players will get mad at bad calls.

Re:But (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about 9 months ago | (#46091737)

Your tv doesn't need to always be at 11.

Reducing spin to make game more interesting (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 9 months ago | (#46089891)

If 'spaghetti-strung' racquets create large amounts of spin, and this makes the game boring due to over caution from both players, then would it be far fetched to suggest that racquets with little or no spin would make the game more enjoyable than it is now?

Same question goes for table tennis.

Re:Reducing spin to make game more interesting (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 9 months ago | (#46090871)

No, I don't think that necissarilly follows. It's about balance, you don't want people doing cautious taps and lobs all day, but you do want cautious taps and lobs to be a viable strategy some of the time. Knowing when to do a backspin dropshot, and having the skill and timing to do it well, is part of what makes the game exciting.

Think how boring an RTS game would be if the only viable strategy was to rush an attack in the first 5 minutes. Then think how boring the first five minutes would be if there were absolutely no possibility of a rush attack coming.

Re:Reducing spin to make game more interesting (1)

lymond01 (314120) | about 9 months ago | (#46091443)

Players are always pushing the limits of the equipment. They string their racquets loosely, fewer crosses, with string that grips the ball more. The extra spin generated is used to generate 100 MPH forehand shots, and balls that rotate at over 3000 RPMs, generating crazy kicks upwards, outwards, etc. Players could just use the new racquet designs to make points last longer and they often do -- but that extra control they get from the spin factor allows them to do things with their bodies and ball older racquets could never do. I'm not sure it's a more athletic game than of old, but it's definitely more acrobatic.

Sport spionage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46089941)

Thats a first to me. I trought sports where about equal oportunities. Also to say something has be stolen, you must prove property. Saying you can steal somebody way to play soccer could mean that is *his* way to play soccer. Thats sayiing too much. Fucking corrupt system and gullible public!

International Tennis Federation? (1)

coofercat (719737) | about 9 months ago | (#46090001)

Sounds like a racket to me ;-)

Rule 31? (2)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 9 months ago | (#46090137)

the ITF has also brought in a new rule — Rule 31 — to reflect the growing use of connected equipment

So... not unlike Rule 34, then...

motorized vehicles could transform cycling!! (1)

Ubi_NL (313657) | about 9 months ago | (#46090683)

news at 11!

Golf (1)

JestersGrind (2549938) | about 9 months ago | (#46091029)

Seems like golf would be a much more appropriate application of this. Golfers are always analyzing and trying to improve their swing.

Re:Golf (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#46098131)

Seems like golf would be a much more appropriate application of this. Golfers are always analyzing and trying to improve their swing.

Just like tennis players do. Why would golf be "more appropriate"? Golf swings can be easily studied already because they are isolated events. It's much more difficult in tennis which is a fast-paced, reactive sport.

Sports aren't fun anymore (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 9 months ago | (#46091347)

I'm an avid cyclist and ride lots of miles per year. No computer. No electronics. No power meter. No GPS. No nothing.

I don't bother with "group rides" anymore because, well for starters I'm sick and tired of the "I'm Lance" crowd always biking off and riding like dicks - but they all have one thing in common - they're quite figuratively buried in electronic gadgets and spend 90% of their time on the ride staring down at a computer display and shouting out numbers at each other in some sort of ersatz dick-measuring contest to see who's is "putting out more watts!"

This obsession with electronics in sport is ruining sport. It's no longer sport. It's my computer versus your computer.

Re:Sports aren't fun anymore (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#46098133)

It's my computer versus your computer.

But you don't have a computer and therefore I WIN. Yes!

Must...post...anonymously... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#46091649)

Ya wanna earn some serious cash from sensors in tennis, put a sniff sensor in Maria Sharapova's shoe.

Hey, man, it's your thing. I just read about you pervs on the internet.

As a tennis player, I approve (1)

lamer01 (1097759) | about 9 months ago | (#46093861)

but, tennis is also about movement. It's not all in the swing of the racquet but if that is your game's defiency then this tool can definitely be of help.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46094055)

The technology that has "improved" e.g. rackets since the 60s has turned the game into a tedious shadow of its former self.

The men's game has become what the women's was (with a few notable exceptions: Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, Maria Bueno): boring in the extreme, with both players standing by the baseline hitting the ball back until their opponent made an unforced error.

Frankly I simply couldn't give a damn any more.

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