You can’t be serious!No-one gets that reference any more, Grandad. But what we do get is that this little button mushroom of ballistics quantifies our tennis playing, in a way that we’ve become accustomed to with fitness sensors for running and cycling. It was announced at CES in January 2014, but is only now appearing in the Western world. In a move that will drive a wedge of warmth into the cynicalest geek heart, the TN1W sensor does not require the purchase of a proprietary Sony racquet but can be attached to a variety of catgut-bats, albeit from “select manufacturers such as Wilson, Prince and Yonex”.
Won’t it unbalance the racquet somewhat?We’ve seen you play, Buster, and the rotational effect of this 31mm, 8g sensor is not your most immediate concern. What might be more pressing is whether or not it can establish that your wildly flailing arms are in fact an attempt to play tennis. And, anyway, aforementioned Smart Tennis Sensor racquets will be weighted accordingly.
What does it actually do then, this thing?They say that the CIA can distantly eavesdrop on your conversations using a high-frame-rate video of harmless objects in the room. The tiny, invisible-to-the-human-eye vibrations that your soundwaves create are captured, turned into a waveform and then into an audio clip. And that’s the last time you’ll ever slag off Doreen from Accounts and get away with it, you love-rat.
Um, we seem to have strayed away from the tennis wotsit.The thing is, knowing the secret services of the world able to discern so much from invisible vibrations, we shouldn’t be at all surprised that the TN1W can determine a huge amount of data from the striking of a big fuzzy ball. And yet we are. It uses vibration sensors and accelerometers to report ball impact location on the strings, swing speed, ball speed and ball spin.
It can log every shot type from topspin forehand to volley backhand to smash. And it can store all this data for later transfer or, via Bluetooth, deliver instant stats to an iOS and Android app. You can even sync the stats with a video of you playing ball.
Sounds like Judy Murray might now be able to shout more focussed coaching than just “Come on, Andy!” Well, quite. Sony says that the Smart Tennis Sensor has been approved for competition use by the International Tennis Federation – but suggests that only the on-device recording mode will be allowed during matches. Shame, really, it’d be good if all of us spectators could see live stats from Andy Murray’s Wimbledon-winning drives. Any which way, it’s now available in the States for the sum of US$200.