I was lucky enough to get an awesome birthday present from my girlfriend this past week. It was a tennis racquet, but what’s more is that it was a smart racquet. The particular model is the Babolat Play, and although it looks like a regular racquet sensors integrated into the handle allow players to have access to a lot of information: power, impact locator, type and number of strokes (forehand, backhand, serve, overhead smash), etc.
While this technology certainly isn’t new (we’ve seen smart basketballs, soccer balls, shoes, watches, etc) it was an interesting reality that set in for me. Here I was being gifted a piece of hardware that was initially invented to help serve a purpose, and we’ve managed to improve on it and make it something that not only helps to do a job, or play a sport, it also allows us to recognize how we’re using it, and how we could use it even better. It’s an entirely new way to look at hardware and physical tools, as feedback systems that form a symbiotic bond between it and the user.
It’s an entirely new way to look at hardware and physical tools, as feedback systems that form a symbiotic bond between it and the user.
My girlfriend told me she ensured the racquet would work with my BlackBerry 10 device because the salesperson had been using the same model racquet with his Z10 for the past year and even demonstrated how it works. BlackBerry MVP awards for my girlfriend and the salesperson aside, there’s a certain beauty to the fact that as this technology becomes more standardized and more ubiquitous within our reality we start to see those OS and proprietary walls begin to be torn down. The fact that the Babolat app works on BlackBerry 10 is because it’s an Android app that taps into a standardized Bluetooth API. This is the essence of Machine-to-Machine technology and communication, hardware and software that can seamlessly connect and talk to each other without the need for the exact same software or hardware. The future vision for M2M and IoT is that our entire physical world will be able to communicate with everything.
This is the essence of Machine-to-Machine technology and communication, hardware and software that can seamlessly connect and talk to each other without the need for the exact same software or hardware.
Traditionally we’ve been focused on the big data trend like sensors in roads, regional weather stations, user data, but the wearables market represents an entirely new layer within Big Data that allows for immediate micro trends and feedback for users, while also supporting a wider range of Big Data payoffs and uses. It’s not solely about the big picture, but it’s an emphasis on different pictures or snapshots depending on who the end user or client is. To me, being able to see whether I’m hitting the majority of my shots in the sweet spot is important as a tool for helping me adjust my playing style, but for Babolat or even someone else who wants to look at a larger trend, it may represent a larger picture in terms of changing the conventional design of a racquet or seeing that certain racquets with certain materials are generally less accurate than others.
I’m excited for the future of this technology to take hold, nobody is ever an expert at anything when they first start doing something, but with this technology we can all hope to get there much quicker.