Sony has taken the wraps off a new sensor that aims to take your tennis game up a notch. The Sony Smart Tennis Sensor is a small Bluetooth tracking device that is fixed to the bottom of your tennis racket (if you have a compatible model) and tracks your performance, dishing it up on your mobile device via the related app. Through highly sensitive wave and motion detection, the sensor can pick up multiple swing types such as topspin forehand, slice forehand, volley forehand, topspin backhand, slice backhand, volley backhand, smash, and even attack-style serves.
Sony partnered with several big names in the tennis industry, including Wilson and Yonex, to ensure that the sensor fits securely onto their rackets. A comprehensive list of compatable racquets is available on Sony’s website. The tennis tracker has been approved by the International Tennis Federation for use in matches where coaching is allowed. When coaching isn’t allow, the sensor may be used in “memory” mode only.
Ease of use
Use of information
The Sony Smart Tennis Sensor itself consists of a red rubbery pod adding very little in the way of additional weight to the racquet. The sensor is waterproof. There are two buttons embedded into the surface to turn the sensor on/off and sync over Bluetooth. It can be used with compatible Android smartphones, tablets and Sony Bravia TVs to review data. Crucially, when it’s put into action, the sensor doesn’t obstruct your swing leaving you free to perfect that forehand!
To track the movement, the sensor uses gyroscope and vibration technology to collect the data so when you strike the ball you’ll be able to see what part of the racquet you have hit the ball with as well as record information regarding the speed of the swing, ball speed, how many balls you’ve hit and even see data on previous shots.
All of this information is relayed back to the accompanying app over Bluetooth giving you a stack of data presented in a clean and concise user interface to help analyse the performance and see how well you’d done in your session.
Tennis players need not worry about the sensor impacting their play styles too much. The sensor weighs about 8 grams and meastures in at 31.3mm, keeping it light enough to stay out of the way while you play. For players at the highest levels of the game, this will mean some minimal adjustments in how you swing.
On a full charge, the tennis sensor will last for up to three hours before a recharge is needed. Once the sensor has been recharged, the user simply removes the logo cap from the base of his or her racket and then attaches the tracker.
The device is very easy to set up. Putting it to the test, the sensor is barely noticeable on the racket and the comprehensive amount of information it is capable of collecting really impresses. What is most exciting is the prospect of using it in other bat, racquet or club-based sports like cricket and golf to generate the same kind of data to help users improve their game.
Using the Sony sensor is no trouble at all. Simply sync it with an app on your iOS or Android smartphone, grab your racket, and watch the program track your stats. The Smart Tennis Sensor can measure shot count, ball impact spot, swing speed, ball speed and ball spin in addition to recording what kind of swings you employ (topspin forehand, backhand, serves and so forth).
Sony has released a companion app, which aggregates and visualizes all of the tracker’s data. With the companion app, you can track rallies and overlay recorded data over video captured by smartphones and tablets. So while the sensor charges at the end of matches, players can go back and review video of their sets with statistical insights on their play.
Users are able to see detailed data of their swings, which are accompanied by both statistics and heat mapping. Shot metrics, swing types, serve styles, and more are all identified. The information can also be shared on social networks through the app’s included social features.
The Live Mode video function records each shot data together with actual video footage! This is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Sony technology – and distinquishes it from the other connected racquet technologies (Zepp and Babolat). This allows you to closely look at your shot data after you are done playing. In addition, you can learn a lot about improving your tennis by watching your form and shot placement in relation to your shot data. Various playback features are available: Video playback skip through to view different shots, shot replay, combined view of all shots for particular types of swing, etc.
Up to 12,000 shots can be recorded on the internal storage, and the device will keep an archive of data for each racket the sensor is used on.
The Sony device definitely helps motivate you to play more. The ability to see how your current sssion compared to your historical sessons gives you something to aim for. The app is customizable – so you can set specific goals such as power, spin, etc.
We are a fan of this sensor. It offers a very different experience compared to the Babolat connected rackets – in some aspects the stats it churns out are more useful and detailed, in some aspects less. The Sony Smart Tennis Sensor though has the added benefit that it can be fitted to a wide range of tennis racquets.
For us, the most impressive feature is the video mode (live for real time stats – and recorded for viewing after the game). The sensor syncs well with the app and we have not come across any hardware/connection difficulties.
Sony Tennis Sensor
We would like to see an online version of the app, so that the stats can be viewed on the internet – and Apple watch compatibility would be nice. We would be surprised though if both were not already in development.