At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I discovered that Bluetooth technology has wormed its way into a staggering number of devices–some tech, some non-tech, some cool, some crazy.
For example, a Bluetooth-equipped toothbrush? That’s just silly. But how about a basketball? Or tennis racket? Or golf club? Equally silly, or does sporting gear actually benefit from this wireless wizardry?
Actually, Bluetooth is just a means to an end, a way for souped-up balls and rackets and the like to communicate real-time data to your smartphone or tablet. Apps then crunch that data to give you immediate feedback on your swing, arc, power, and other metrics, all in the interest of helping you improve your game.
And some of it is insanely cool.
Take the 94Fifty Basketball, which relies on various internal sensors to measure things like dribble force and shot arc and backspin. All this gets reported to your iPhone in real-time, where a virtual coach helps you correct any issues while you practice.
Amazingly, the ball is regulation size and weight, and it can “run” for eight hours on a charge. At $295, it’s a little pricier than your average basketball, but that hasn’t stopped me from putting this on next year’s Christmas list (and I celebrate Chanukah, so you know how much I want one of these).
Babolat Play Pure Drive, a tennis racket similarly endowed with sensors to give players detailed metrics on their game: shot power, spin, impact location, and even type and number of strokes (forehand vs. backhand, etc.).Next up: the
The price for all this handy data? $399. Expensive, yes, but not significantly more than you’d pay for a premium “dumb” racket. And this one promises to improve your game in ways no tennis pro can.
Finally, there’s the Zepp, a small sensor designed to ride shotgun on your baseball bat, tennis racket, or golf club. For the comparatively low price of $149.99, it will collect (and deliver, again via Bluetooth) stats on your swing, power, play time, and more.
Obviously the data won’t be as rich as you’ll get from, say, a dedicated racket with sensors built right into the handle, but the Zepp could still give you unparalleled insight into your game. And with insight comes improvement.
I’m not saying technology can aid every aspect of our lives, but if it’ll help me develop the muscle-memory I need to sink my jump-shot more often, let it come.