Thanks in large part to crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter, the number of performance watches and monitors available has exploded in recent years. It seems that every new week brings a new sports monitor. The latest to catch our attention is the simply named Shot Stats Challenger. This monitor clips onto a tennis racket, tracking swing metrics.
Atlanta-based Shot Stats LLC was founded last year by Lavie Sak, a lifelong tennis player and certified coach, and engineer Sergey Feingold. Since then, they've been developing tennis tracker prototypes and moving toward market launch.
When snapped onto the strings of a tennis racket, the Shots Stats Challenger plays both physical and smart roles. It serves as a vibration dampener, while using its accelerometer and gyroscope sensor set to measure and store tennis stats. The device measures time on the court, racket head speed at time of ball impact, the number and types of shots taken, the type and amount of spin on the ball, impact points on the racket, and number of shots between re-stringings.
The Challenger design includes a small, high-contrast touchscreen for viewing and swiping through stats. It is also Bluetooth-equipped, connecting with smart devices to export the data for more in-depth analysis. You can study specific sessions to get insight into your game and track your performance over time. You can also overlay stats onto slow-motion video using the in-app camera. By setting specific goals, the Challenger can provide audio alerts during play, letting you know when your game is off the mark.
No sports monitor is complete without a social component, and the Challenger doesn't miss this point. It allows you to connect with a community of tennis players to share information, compare stats and set up matches.
Currently, the measurement set does not include ball speed. Shot Stats is looking at the possibility of offering this as an extrapolation of racket data. It does not anticipate having this function at launch but is investigating it for possible release as a future update. Shot Stats also plans to offer an open API for developers to design new applications around.
Challenger designers have reached out to the Kickstarter community in an effort to finish product development and begin production. They're aiming to raise US$75,000, with hopes of beginning production by the end of the year. Pledges of $125 and up secure one of the first units, with estimated delivery in January.
Because the Challenger design is not finalized, it doesn't have a listed weight. Shot Stats says it is aiming to keep it within the weight of two to three standard vibration dampeners. The current impact-resistant design uses an aluminum housing and shockproof screen designed to hold up to use on the court. Challenger designers say that it can handle direct ball hits and stay firmly clamped to the racket until you physically remove it. Testing of its durability is ongoing. The device has a LiPo battery that provides up to four hours of tracking.
Beyond the tennis tracker, Shot Stats may also look to apply the platform to other sports, such as golf, squash and baseball, in the future.
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