The next time you hit a tennis ball out of bounds, your racquet can tell you why.
Attracting attention at the 2014 International CES show in Las Vegas this week, the Babolat Play($399) is the world’s first connected tennis racquet. The device comes from manufacturer Babolat, known for its wide collection of racquets.
Intended for both beginners and advanced players, sensors on the handle collect data about the player’s swing, power, endurance, technique and ball impact. That information is then sent to Babolat Play’s accompanying app, so users can analyze their skills and ultimately improve how they play.
“The lack of data collected during a tennis game is perceived as a real deficiency,” Eric Babolat, president and CEO, told Mashable. “Tennis won’t be only based on sensations or feeling anymore, but on concrete information. The more you know about your game, the better you perform.”
Sports such as running and biking have already been reinvented with the help of tracking apps and high-tech gadgets — allowing users to monitor everything from distance to areas in need of improvement — but tennis has been largely untouched by connected technology until now.
The app shows a full overview of a player’s game evolves over time, as well as how they stack up against others (both friends and strangers). An online community brings together players at recreational and competitive levels, letting them interact and keep tabs on each other.
Babolat, which believes all tennis racquets will have connected capabilities in the upcoming years, has been working with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to make sure the court rules are reflected in the device.
“We have been working with the organization for more than a year to respect the rules of tennis and make sure all players could benefit from the connected racquets on any court,” he said.
In support of innovating the sport, the ITF recently modified the rules of tennis by allowing the use of player analysis technologies during official competitions. The new rule will apply starting January 1, 2014.