Tennis goes high-tech with new tracking system
SmartCourt provides real-time feedback and instant video for athletes everywhere.
Top athletes have been using video recording and analysis as a way to improve their game for years. It's a well-worn practice in sports like tennis that allows players to evaluate their own performance, scout opponents and find areas of improvement. But why not take video to the next level with a recording system that also provides real-time statistical data and feedback?
That's the goal of SmartCourt, a system created by Israeli company PlaySight Interactive that uses five automated cameras to track player movements and actions during play and provide real-time feedback along with after-action review, stats and analysis. Everything is automatically recorded, analyzed and uploaded into PlaySight's website, where players can then review their performance and share it with their coaches, fellow players or anyone else they choose. Players don't need to attach any sensors to their body or use special equipment while playing.
PlaySight's SmartCourt could vastly improve tennis training. (Photo: PlaySight.com)
Not to be confused with the Hawk-Eye system used in professional tennis matches, which feature eight to 10 cameras, PlaySight's SmartCourt can also capture ball movement and even call out whether balls are "in" or "out." The result is a simple, user-friendly system that's adaptable to everyone in tennis, from the newcomer to the college athlete.
"We are engineers," PlaySight CEO Chen Shachar told USA Today. "We don't come from tennis."
SmartCourt is not the first (or only) technology out there that tracks player analytics, but the difference from competitors like SportsVu and SportsVision is that PlaySight's creation is not designed solely for elite athletes with enormous bank accounts. The SmartCourt costs approximately $10,000 to set up (plus usage fees), a fraction of the cost of systems that cater to professional athletes.
"To fulfill our vision of installing thousands of SmartCourts for the club level all around the world," Shachar added, "we had to develop a system suitable for the masses, easy to set up, scalable and affordable to every club."
SmartCourt makes sharing data with coaches or fellow players simple. (Photo: PlaySight.com)
PlaySight clients include multiple Grand Slam winner Stefan Edberg, who recently added a SmartCourt to his tennis academy, and the French Tennis Federation, who have installed a SmartCourt at the famous Roland Garros.
These are currently eight installed SmartCourts in the New York area, and PlaySight has big plans to make the technology a household name. It's hoping to have 4,000 SmartCourts installed by the year 2018. Even legendary tennis players like Billie Jean King and Novak Djokovic have invested in PlaySight, which will allow the company to do the research necessary to expand its technology to other major sports.
With the International Tennis Federation's approval of SmartCourt for amateur courts (as well as 35 well-known courts worldwide, including the CourtSense Tennis Training Center in New Jersey), it looks like PlaySight's first serve is well on its way to being an ace.
Here's a video that shows how PlaySight's SmartCourt works: http://youtu.be/w1JUnYhRHog
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