Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: L. J. Rick reports at BBC that Babolat has released a tennis racket with gyroscopes, accelerometers and a piezoelectric sensor in the handle that can assess your every shot, sensing where the ball strikes the racquet and the quality of the contact. It counts forehands and backhands, serves and smashes and provides stats in the form of tennis data that can be analysed, stored and compared. The sensor can gather data such as ball speed, accuracy, and angle, and will pair the info with devices such as Bluetooth, phones, computers and USB connections. "We integrated sensors inside the handle of the racquet, but it does not change the specification. And these sensors will analyse your tennis game, so your swing — your motion — and all this information will be collected by the racquet," says Gael Moureaux. The International Tennis Federation, aware of the growing influx of hi-tech equipment into the sport, has set up a program called Player Analysis Technology (PAT) to regulate such "virtual coaches" as the Babolat racquet. The governing body wants to be calling the shots on where and how innovation can be used, as in the past it has found itself having to ban some products like the so-called "spaghetti-strung" racquets (with double stringing that are already on the market and in use. In conjunction with its PAT approval program, the ITF has also brought in a new rule — Rule 31 — to reflect the growing use of connected equipment, and its possible role in tournament play. Approved devices need to be secure and protected against unauthorised access, to prevent "sporting espionage'" whereby data could be stolen. Knowing when an opponent's right hand gets tired during the second set would be a huge advantage. Despite the innovations, one trainer does not think he is in danger of being upstaged by a smart racquet. "I think that it's great for feedback but you still need someone to analyze it," says tennis coach says Nik Snapes. "At the end of the day it's the practice and the ability of someone that makes the player, not necessarily the equipment in their hand."
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