Sony's serving up a new piece of tracking tech -- a tiny module that fits onto the end of your tennis racket, and keeps track of your playing performance. We saw an early demo of the sensor when it was first shown off at the start of this year, before it went on sale in Japan in May. Now Sony is bringing its cutesy sports tech to the western world. Read on for all the facts.
Recording your sports data
The Smart Tennis Sensor attaches to the bottom of your tennis racket, where it sits recording information about your playing. The sensor itself is just over 3cm wide and weighs a mere 8g. It's packed full of sensing mechanics, Sony says, including vibration analysis tech that evaluates tennis data, like how many shots you've taken, whereabouts on the racket the ball made contact and the speed of your swing.
Sony reckons its blob-shaped gadget will also identify and record different types of tactical tennis manoeuvres, including topspin forehand, slice forehand, volley forehand, topspin backhand, slice backhand, volley backhand, smash, and attacking serves.
The sensor is compatible with Android and iOS gadgets, communicating with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. The app can be used to show you visualisations of your swings, and facts about individual shots. Up to 12,000 shots can be logged to the sensor's internal storage.
How does it handle?
I've only tested the sensor in its pre-sale form (check the video above to see how it handled), but I was impressed with the amount of data that the sensor recorded, as well as the speed with which data was transmitted from the sensor and visualised.
Of course, I'm no tennis pro, so unfortunately I can't speak to the accuracy -- or indeed the real usefulness -- of what the sensor is picking up when you smack the ball, so I'd suggest that, if you're keen, it might be an idea to try it out on the court before buying.
Compatible rackets and cost
The bad news is that you can't attach this sensor to any old racket -- Sony says you'll need a compatible bit of sports equipment. Selected models from Wilson, Prince and Yonex are en route, with a full list of compatible rackets available online.
Racket aside, the sensor itself will cost you a wince-inducing $200 (which converts to £120/AU$215) when it goes on sale by the end of January 2015, available to buy online from Wilson and select Wilson tennis dealers. It's confirmed to be available in the US and Canada -- we're still waiting on news of a release elsewhere in the world.
That's a fair amount of cash to splash, so I suspect only dedicated tennis enthusiasts will be willing to get involved in Sony's Smart Tennis tech, at least at the current price. Here's hoping we see Sony's sensor showing up inside other types of sporting gear -- and at a lower price -- before too long.