If you're a tennis enthusiast, the wearable tech revolution can add extra fun into your game and even make you a better player. From critiquing your forehand and offering in-depth data about how fast and accurate your stokes were or how much ground you covered, there's a wearable to help you.
Connected tech is, to some degree, still in its infancy but it's already breaking out of the arena of general activity monitoring and into the professional world of sport.
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We've looked into a number of wearable (and not so wearable) tech devices and the prognosis is good. So grab your racquet and get cracking. Wimbledon (and the country) depends on you.
Babolat AeroPro Drive Play
Lyon-based Babolat is not only the world's oldest manufacturer of tennis racquets, it's the company credited with having invented the racquet string as we know it. Well, here they come again with another groundbreaking invention, only you can't see it. The new Babolat Play Pure Drive looks and plays just like its top-selling stablemate of the same name. However, there is one major difference: this version comes with a bank of sensors integrated into the handle that records a player's tennis strokes before porting the stats to an Android or iOS device.
Simply put, this clever slice of hidden tech tracks a player's stroke power, ball impact position (sweet spot or edge) and the number of forehand, backhand, overhead and spin strokes performed during play. The data is then presented on your smartphone screen via a series of colourful, illustrative graphs. The Babolat name carries a lot of clout in tennis-land so it's hardly surprising the manufacturer's managed to employ the evaluation services of tennis champ Rafael Nadal who, incidentally, has even supplied his own bank of personal playing stats for Wimbledon wannabes to aspire to.
Zepp Tennis Kit
If you can't afford a top-of-the-line Babolat Play Pure Drive racquet, use your own racket and attach this similarly-styled Bluetooth sensor to the end of it. The Zepp is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and measures a whole bunch of data, including power, sweet spot, shot type, spin and time on court. One especially neat feature is the way it displays a three dimensional real-time analysis of your stroke that can be viewed from various angles.
The Zepp is charged via USB and runs for up to eight hours. And that's longer than any tennis match in history, bar John Isner and Nicolas Mahut's marathon 11 hour Wimbledon summit of 2010. For the record, Zepp also produce similar sensor packages for golfers and baseball players.
A crowdfunded smartwatch designed for tennis players, the Pulse Play is will keep tabs on your game score, as well as put you in touch with other players. Designed by seasoned double grand slam champ Andy Ram, you can keep score mid-game with the touch of a button, and most impressively, get scores announced using the voice of Homer Simpson.
Don't be confused by the name, however; the Pulse Play has nothing to do with your heart rate, which coincidentally would be a great feature in a tennis watch.
Other features include being able to hook up with similarly rated tennis players in your local area, though we assume that's done via a companion app rather than the band itself – like some kind of doubles partner homing beacon.
The band is fully funded on Indiegogo and you can bag a unit for $75.
Australian-based Smash may miss the boat with its forthcoming 'game changing tennis wearable'. Unlike the Zepp and Babolat Play, the Smash – which is still in Kickstarter phase – utilises a handsome wrist band instead of a racquet sensor to measure and analyse the accuracy and consistency of a player's technique.
It also motivates the player by setting various challenges and goals. But with shipping estimated as far off as February, 2015, it may struggle against the competition.
Sony Smart Tennis
Not one to miss out on the latest in sports technology, Sony, too, has developed a standalone Bluetooth-equipped racquet sensor for use with models from select manufacturers like Wilson, Prince and Yonex.
The Japanese company's Smart Tennis device is said to use wave and motion-detection sensors and vibration analysis technology to measure the various types of strokes before transferring the data to a Smartphone app for post-match performance analysis.
Ralph Lauren Polo Tech Shirt
Ralph Lauren has muscled in on the wearables arena and the company is currently trialling a new nylon compression T lined with silver-coated bio-sensing threads that track and stream real-time biometric data to a smartphone or tablet.
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The Polo Tech Shirt monitors stress levels, breathing patterns, calories burned, heart rate and movement and is currently being tested by ball boys at this year's US Open. The T-shirt is due for an official launch in early 2015.
This ingenious tennis coaching system is designed for clubs – unless, of course, you have your own private court and your surname's Abramovich. PlaySight is an interactive 'after action review system' that uses four automated cameras to provide feedback footage of a player's technique.
The system tracks stroke types, serve speed, accuracy, distance covered, even the number of unforced errors, and these stats are then uploaded to the PlaySight.com portal for private perusal on any smartphone or desktop computer. There are currently just two PlaySight courts in the UK (London's Queens Club and Stoke Park County Club) but you can be sure more will follow. Clever, very clever.
Session prices vary, playsight.com
We actually found this watch among the halls of CES 2015, and while it has all the tech of a Casio smartwatch, it's another firmly aimed at the tennis market. Another two-buttoned scoring system keeps tabs on your game, and you can get a breakdown of your game afterwards. Your fans around the world can also keep tabs on your games with Jeff from accounts via the app, which connects to your watch by Bluetooth LE.