Technology is sneaking into sports in all sorts of interesting ways. We've already seen an electronic basketball and a football helmet with concussion sensors. Now it's time for tennis to get its turn with the Babolat Play Pure Drive connected tennis racket.
The only clue that you're not playing with a regular racket is the LED light at the bottom of the handle. Otherwise, it has the same specs and feel of a normal Babolat Pure Drive racket. Sensors tucked into the handle measure power, impact location, number of strokes, spin, and type of stroke. It's charged via USB and lasts for up to six hours, which should get you through all but the most epic of tennis matches.
All of the data gets sent via Bluetooth to an iOS or Android app for analysis, so you get heaps of specific details to work with, all laid out in a simple visual fashion. This can then be used to figure out the weak spots in your game and aim for improvement. A partnership with Movea, a provider of motion-sensing technology, makes this all possible.
I got my hands on one of the connected rackets and immediately noticed how normal it feels. It weighs almost nothing and has excellent balance. The International Tennis Federation just approved the Babolat Play for use in tournaments, so players will be able to gather data on their official matches as well as their training sessions. Naturally, there's also a social aspect that lets you compare your scores to other players.
Considering all the inroads of tech hardware into various sports, the Babolat Play Pure Drive strikes me as a particularly well-thought-out entry into the market. It won't replace a coach, but it gives players unprecedented insight into the details of their game. I haven't played since I was younger, but hefting that racket makes me want to get back on the court and test my swing.