The IoT is making a racket in the tennis world

With the U.S. Open now in full swing, it appears that the serve speed radar gun and Hawkeye replay challenge system won’t be the only high-tech gadgets in use over the next two weeks. In a new venture with OMsignal, Ralph Lauren is introducing a new revolution in on-court wearable technology. As the official outfitter of the two-week Grand Slam, Ralph Lauren will be decking teching out this year’s ball boys with nylon t-shirts lined comprised of conductive silver-coated thread and sensors knitted into its core to read biological and physiological information.

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As demonstrated by the image above, the compression shirt features a sleek look in black with a signature yellow Polo Player logo. The second-skin fit enhances comfort and agility. Indeed, the decision to equip ball boys with sensor-laden shirts is a first serve of many in introducing a new wave of technology into the tennis world. Ralph Lauren tells the New York Times that 2015 will see the company launch a range of clothing — including classic dress shirts as well athletic wear — containing the smart technology of OM.

The embedded sensors, which include an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a heart rate monitor, are housed in a black box that’s embedded discretely in the shirt. This box can also be removed, allowing for the shirt to be thrown in the wash, while the box itself is charged. Ralph Lauren tells Business Insider that the smart shit can endure 30 workouts, or approximately 30 workouts, without running out of battery.

Aside from dressing several ball boys in the Polo Tech Shirt during select matches at the Billie Jean National Tennis Center, top collegiate player Marcos Giron will be playing in his first Grand Slam in Flushing wearing the embedded shirt during his training sessions. He will track his biometrics and making adjustments in real time to his play, form and breathing.

David Brewer, U.S. Open Tournament Director, explained that there are features in the Polo Tech shirt that can “revolutionize how players train and compete.” He added, “The fact that Ralph Lauren chose the U.S. Open as the venue to unveil its Polo Tech shirt enhances our tradition as a showcase for innovation.”

The debut at the U.S. Open marks the first time a global sporting event is being used as a platform to launch a collection of wearable products. However, this is just the latest connected advancement in the sport over the past couple of weeks. Just days ago, Sony has introduced its Smart Tennis Sensor, which has been designed for all levels of players that looking to optimize their game and share their performance results. The new sensor takes control to the next level through real-time shot visualizations instantly available on a smartphone or tablet as well as simultaneous displaying of recorded video and shot metrics.

As the USTA Grand Slam exemplifies, sensors are everywhere and being designed into everything throughout today’s connected world. The requirements are moving from simple monitoring to full interpretation of the devices state and situation. Many of these tasks require the simultaneous analysis and fusion of data from different sensors and sensor types, including motion sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes. To simplify enabling these systems, Atmel has partnered with the leading sensor manufacturers and sensor fusion specialists to provide a complete, easy to implement Sensor Hub Solution.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the IoT, or Internet of Tennis. Connected devices continue to emerge throughout the tennis world, including recent advancements from SmashShot Stats and Play Pure Drive, each of which have already ‘hit’ the market.

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Sony has opted to go with a racquet-mounted sensor, which sits right at the butt of its handle. The company reveals that device will track just about every metric and statistic that a tennis player or coach could need, ranging from shot count and ball impact spot to swing and ball speed. Through highly sensitive wave and motion detection, the sensor can pick up multiple swing types such as topspin forehand, slice forehand, volley forehand, topspin backhand, slice backhand, volley backhand, smash, and even Andy Roddick-like serves, the company explained in its press release.

Initially partnering with top tennis manufacturer Wilson, as well as Prince and Yonex, Sony aspires to create a compact enough body to accompany the sleek yet performance-driven rackets known to generations of players.

“Sony is a company which aims to enhance customers’ daily lives by offering products, applications and services which inspire and fulfill their curiosity,” said Furumi Hideyuki, SVP, the president of UX & Product Strategy Group, UX, Product Strategy and Creative Platform, Sony Corporation. “Through working with our partners in the tennis racket market, Sony will offer its Smart Tennis Sensor, to all levels of tennis players ranging from beginners to experts and is very excited about the prospect of enriching tennis with this new experience.”

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Sony’s Smart Tennis Sensor wirelessly connects with smartphones and tablets using Bluetooth technology with performance data spontaneously visualized through a complimentary iOS and Android supported application. Alongside showcasing real-time visualizations of swings including heat mapping and stats, the app can record rallies while simultaneously displaying shot metrics. Through the app’s social sharing features, the Smart Tennis Sensor turns single and double player matches or practice sessions into an instant sharable experience across social media.

The sensor’s Memory Mode enables up to 12,000 shots of internal storage for quick saving or easy download to a smartphone or tablet. The sensor can be conveniently transferred any time, along with all recorded historical shots between a player’s spare rackets, or to another compatible racket model or brand through a player’s development in the sport. The Smart Tennis Sensor, which weights approximately 8-grams and measures 31.3mm in diameter, will be available directly from Wilson and at some retailers in January with a price tag of $200.

Once thought as a preppy, traditional sport, tennis has stepped up its game to meet today’s digital-savvy, constantly-connected world. This means we can expect to see more sensors, more chips and more real-time action. Atmel is making it easy for designers to create a more intelligent, more connected tennis world, ranging from embedded wearables to on-court technologies. Atmel® | SMART™ ARM®-based solutions include embedded processing and connectivity — as well as software and tools — designed to make it faster and more cost-effective to bring smart products to market, or in this case, the court. Atmel | SMART MCUs combine powerful 32-bit ARM cores with industry-leading low-power technology and intelligent peripherals. Serve’s up!

2 thoughts on “The IoT is making a racket in the tennis world

  1. Pingback: Wearable tech transforming how coaches evaluate players on the pitch | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  2. Pingback: Report: Smart garments are set to explode in 2016 | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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