Scientists are testing a new prototype tennis racquet that is stuffed with electronic sensors to track a player’s every slice, spin and smash.
Tennis stars Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were among those who put the racquet through its paces.
As the two giants of the court traded shots, their prototype racquets communicated data wirelessly to two display screens and mobile devices.
The CEO of the the French manufacturer Eric Babolat said: “The major difference is that the Babolat racket communicates and records what happens during the game, and then it can give the player feedback. It provides information to players who have almost no feedback. They have plenty of sensations during the game but don’t have factual information except for their scores and their ranking, which is not much to go on and to enjoy the game.”
The data can also be shared with the wider tennis community online for tips and advice. The “Play and Connect” model looks just like a standard racquet and – according to Babolat and its testing team – also feels identical in play.
“The treatment of the product, the chemical treatment, the protection against UV rays and humidity that are built-in, have changed its image,” Babolat explained, “it used to be considered fragile; that’s not the case anymore.”
The rackets are made in the Babolat factory at Lyon in France.
After a game, the racket can be connected to a computer – either wirelessly or via a USB plug -analyzing speed, ball spin and power, making it a useful tool for tennis coaches.
The company said the electronic version would cost about 250 euros, roughly the same as a normal top-of-the-range racquet.