Smartwatches/Bands Sports

Pulse Play wearable for racket sports keeps score, doesn’t do much else

Racket ball sports such as tennis, badminton, squash and pingpong delight upper-crust players around the globe. Pulse Play is a wearable used for just such sports. Worn on the wrist, this product monitors each match and records data to an accompanying app via Bluetooth. It keeps and announces the score, remembers the stats of each match, ranks players, and can even match players up with those near them who match their playing level. The wristband comes in a rainbow of colors and is made of lightweight material perfect for working up a sweat in.

Pulse Play only really seems mildly useful. Yes, it keeps score, but the data it provides won’t help one improve their game and it’s doubtful that many are interested in being matched up with other strange players. People only want to meet strangers with the help of an app if they’re going to hook up. Perhaps if the wearable pushed a bit further and provided feedback on speed and swing, like the Arcus fitness wearable, it would enjoy some success.

Still, interested backers can have one of their own for a donation of $75 for delivery in October 2015. Pulse Play’s Indiegogo campaign has a fundraising goal of $75,000.

Connected Objects Sensors/IoT Sports

The Holy Pie smart racket adds divine feedback to your game

smartracketTrying to learn proper technique in racketsports such as tennis and badminton can be tough. Having an aid like the strangely named Holy Pie Smart Racket, though, can help curb a newcomer’s mistakes or refine a more seasoned player. A microsensor in the handle tracks stats like hitting position and power. The product then connects with a PC or a smartphone to display 3D-models of your performance for your scrutiny. Whether the racket will also analyze that data to give you tips remains to be The raw data could be helpful, but it seems as though the product could benefit from some expert interpretation of the data. That would be particularly welcome considering the badminton version is expected at $240 and the tennis version is expected at $600. Those who know the flow and have cash to blow can improve their chances of bashing a birdie with units shipped in November 2014.

Sports Tools

SpinGen puts its spin on tennis racquet strings

The Premise. The best tennis technique involves not only a firm grip and good racket, but also a spin on the ball itself. This spin allows the ball to move in an arc, which makes it easier to get over the net. It also can push the ball to the opposite side when it hits the net itself. Tightly wound rackets get this spinning effect, but it lasts for only a short time.

The Product. SpinGen is a device that gets the best use out of your tennis racquet. It creates a rougher quality in the strings so that they produce more spin. The product is a plier-like tool that one clamps around the strings in the “sweet spot” of the racket. It roughens some of the strings, while others remain smooth so that the strings themselves can easily slide against each other creating spin and flexibility at the same time. One must simply clamp around the string in question and apply pressure until the string is a bit rougher. 

The Pitch. SpinGen’s campaign video features epic music along with the basic physics involved in the game of tennis. For the rest, the creator displays lots of up close photos of tennis racquets and strings. SpinGen needs to raise $18,000 for a successful run on Kickstarter.

The Perks. One of these tennis-centric clamps goes for $35 with an estimated delivery date of September 2014. Higher reward tiers offer several SpinGens at discounted rates and climb up to $280.

The Potential. SpinGen is one of those products that solves a problem that few know about. There are tennis strings out there that are already rough. The creator argues, however, that it’s best to have a combination of rough and soft strings for the best game. SpinGen is a great way to produce such an effect, but will probably be useful only to pro tennis players. While an interesting product, the SpinGen needs to find a place in the very niche tennis market for success. 

Smartwatches/Bands Sports

Smash serves up tennis advice to turn you into an ace

The Premise. Anyone who has ever tried to simply hit the ball both over the net and within bounds knows that tennis is a lot harder than it looks. Mastering the game can take years and the specialized advice of a professional coach that knows what needs fixing.

The Product. Smash is a wristband that circumvents the coach almost entirely by analyzing every detail of the hitting motion on each swing of the racket. From velocity of serves to follow-through form and even hitting strategies, the Smash records all data during a match silently and without breaking up the action. Afterwards, the Smash syncs easily to its proprietary app, crunching all of that data into something easier to understand, with precise metrics and analysis that provides simple tips on how to improve one’s game immediately. Smash also features social functions that allow players to challenge one another and determine who has the best skill in local or national areas.

The Pitch. Smash inventor Rob Crowder clearly has the tennis bug, which makes Smash all the better for its attention to detail and ability to improve one’s play. The presentation and the app user interface is clean, modern, and bright, motivating players to do better each and every time. Crowder and his team need $200,000 AUD to produce and test the device for durability, weather, and general quality.

The Perks. For $129 AUD, a Smash wristband will arrive at any tennis enthusiast’s doorstep in February 2015. Anyone that wants to help refine the device before it becomes available via retail can do so with the Alpha Testing Edition for $299 AUD, available in December 2014. Those who prefer the personal touch can get a Smash engraved with production number and backer’s name for $399 AUD.

The Potential. For people who want to learn the game of tennis, Smash could be a fantastic aid to everyone without the budget to hire a personal coach. Perhaps the last thing the world needs is another athletic tracker on everyone’s wrist before the gym starts looking like a group of people trying to sell watches in a back alley. Still, Smash belongs there to analyze every bit of movement from every hit of the ball and provide helpful tips to improve one’s game each and every time. Don’t expect to see these popping up at Wimbledon any time soon, but younger players who need to learn the tiny differences that separate the good from the best will be served well by using Smash.


Challenger tennis aid tracks speed and impact, makes players better with the ball

Every sport out there has become smart. With golfing aides and fitness rings, it’s now possible to examine every way a player can improve their game.

Enter Challenger, a tennis racket attachment that measures various aspects of a tennis player’s swing. This nifty little gadget attaches directly to the strings of a tennis racket. With Bluetooth, it communicates various metrics to the accompanying app. The Challenger is impact-resistant, weather-resistant and features a highly visible touchscreen display with four hours of battery life.

The app measures the speed of the swing, impact points on the racket and spin of each ball hit. It also keeps track of play time, types of swings, and how long the strings of the racket last until they need to be restrung. The app provides individualized profiles of players, gives tennis tips, and tracks progress over time.

Challenger offers lots of data that will certainly be helpful to tennis players looking to take their game to the next level. All it’s missing is a way for the app to interpret that data to provide feedback on how to improve, like the similar runScribe for runners. However, it’s feature of connecting the user with different players in their area is a nice plus. One can be had for $150 with delivery in January 2015. Challenger hopes to raise $75,000 in funding.


Arced Curvstar tennis racket serves up ergonomic enhancements

The Premise. Imagine, it’s finally the weekend! The sunny sky is a clear blue and you’ve been looking forward to getting out and playing tennis with your good friend all week long. It’s a perfect summer morning. Could anything be better than taking a few swings with your favorite racket? It could if there was a new racket that might become your favorite.

The Product. If you’re a tennis enthusiast, and especially a professional, you’ll likely want to check out this ergonomically correct tennis racket by Curvstar. Tennis pros, health pros, and engineers got together to design a curved racket that boasts of not only being able to give you a better game, but also a safer one. The inventors claim that the curve is a better fit with the design of the human body and takes the stress off of a player’s wrist and forearm that would otherwise be present with a traditional racket. And less stress means reduced chances of injury and more opportunity to enjoy the tennis season from start to finish.

The Pitch. The video for the $50,000 campaign could have used some better lighting for the live shots throughout the video, but the explanation of how and why the product is better than a traditional racket has some good logic to it. It was a nice touch to hear background music that wasn’t dorky. The video also notes that it’s not necessary to change your technique in order to use Curvstar. The racket head is roughly the same size as a traditional racket, and you’ll hold it in pretty much the same location.

The Perks. There are ten tiers from which backers may choose. The first level that includes a racket is the $149 early bird special. This is a $100 savings off of the anticipated retail price. Expected delivery is June 2014, just in time for summer session!

The Potential. With an anticipated retail price of $249, it’s not likely that the average Rafael or Serena will take an interest in Curvstar, especially when a traditional Wilson racket can be purchased for around $30. However, tennis enthusiasts, aspiring professionals, and professionals are a niche that could possibly really make this product take off because if the claims that the design reduces injury and improve performance ring true.