About this project
Challenger finally lets you instantly see your stats after every swing. Off court, you can sync Challenger with your phone or computer to view and track your progress over time.
Challenger fits onto your racket like a normal dampener. An integrated latch lets you remove Challenger from your racket in seconds, but ensures that it will never come off on its own. The angular design and matte black finish resemble an object that’s constantly in stealth mode. Turn Challenger on and a bright display appears – your window into your game. Your racket takes a lot of abuse – and so can Challenger thanks to its high-strength aircraft aluminum body.
We decided on the metrics below because we believe they’ll help reveal the most important aspects of your swing and identify areas of improvement. Our goal was to select metrics that would benefit players of all levels and ages.
Unlike other activity trackers, Challenger can be used standalone. You don’t need to have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to see your stats! However, if you do have a mobile device, your data can really be brought to life. Tracking your progress over time has never been easier and the ability to overlay your stats onto slow-motion video - in real-time using the in-app camera – gives you a powerful look into your game. Evolution mode allows you to track your trends and progress over time to provide even more insight. You can also examine specific sessions to get a deeper understanding.
Tennis is a community. You play in leagues, ladders, tournaments, team matches, or just for fun. Learning from other players, coaches, and even the Internet, allows you to improve. Shot Stats wants to help you grow your community by connecting you with the people around you. Improve your game by discovering new challengers and have a blast doing it!
We've spent the last 4 months in Shenzhen, China attending HAXLR8R, the top hardware accelerator in the world. During that time we worked with excellent mentors, advisors, and engineers, not to mention a slew of other startups full of passionate and motivated people. We forged a lot of new connections with potential factories and suppliers and developed a couple of new prototypes.
We’re currently working hard to develop the software and firmware that will drive Challenger. Our hardware is also undergoing development to ensure that it’s light, strong, and durable. Despite its small size, Challenger packs a lot of processing power, and getting all of this down to a small size is quite a challenge (no pun intended!).
We've been working extremely hard to bring you the best product possible and are now at a critical point. We need your help to bring Challenger to life. By contributing to our KickStarter campaign you're:
- Helping to make tennis a part of the digital sports evolution.
- Signing up to be one of the first to use Challenger!
- Driving the future of technology in tennis – your feedback will help us ensure that Challenger is the best tool out there for tennis players.
Your pledges will go directly towards:
- Hardware prototyping. Circuit boards and CNC machining are expensive in small quantities. We need your help to iterate quickly and refine our hardware.
- Tooling for mass production. Prototyping is one thing, but setting up a production run can be costly. Your pledges will help us pay for the tooling and set-up so that we can manufacture the Challenger cost-effectively.
- Purchasing components and raw materials. Before any production run can begin, all materials and components have to be lined up and ready to go. Purchasing these items up-front is a substantial investment, and your pledges will ensure that we can fulfill these orders and get everything ready once production starts.
- Bringing on additional engineering talent. Although we have an extremely capable team, hiring additional engineers will help us develop even faster and give you a better product.
- Certifications. There are a whole lot of certifications that consumer products need to meet, and every country can have different requirements. FCC, UL, Bluetooth, CE, the list goes on. Certifications must be done by an accredited testing lab, and they can be quite expensive. There are additional certifications that are not strictly necessary, such as MilSpec and IP. Though these are not legally required, they will help us ensure that Challenger can stand up to anything – vibration, shock, dust, water, etc…
Please share Challenger with friends, family, players, coaches, and anyone who enjoys tennis. Your support is the key to the success of this campaign!
Growing up, my parents couldn't afford tennis lessons for me; regardless I found myself an old racket and a wall. I fell in love with the game. I looked for new ways to improve and new things to learn. The more information I had, the better. The more personalized the information, the better.
From that experience, I saw the importance of accessibility in tennis. It's one of the key drivers for Shot Stats. I want to see tennis, a game we love, reach everyone.
As a certified coach myself, I want to empower both the player and coach with meaningful data. I was never good enough to have an impact playing the game, but I truly believe I can through innovating it.
I've always known I wanted to be a creator. For a while I wasn't exactly sure what kind but I knew that I liked circuits, motors, wires, blinky lights, and all the things that come with them. Naturally, that led me down the engineering path. Seeing something come into the world, something that was once just an idea in your mind, is one of the best feelings I can imagine.
All engineers want to make a difference and have a positive impact. For so many people, tennis isn't just a sport. It's a way of life - or a symbol of something even greater. As a founder and the lead engineer of Shot Stats, I get to use technology to give tennis players something they've never had access to before. Every day brings new challenges, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Aside from engineering, I have a ridiculous love of both coffee and my weenie dog. I can make a pretty awesome Stroganoff too!
We plan to push tennis into the information age by giving everyone access to the tools and feedback that have - until now - only been available to the elite. This data has the potential to set the groundwork for quantifying tennis swings of players of all ages and levels.
The key to improvement is understanding and identifying what needs to improve. Challenger helps strengthen your understanding by providing you with more information about your swing.
Once we reach our goal, backers who have a shirt in their package will vote on their favorite design to be manufactured:
We want to thank you for checking out our campaign. It’s been an amazing journey so far and we hope that with your help, we can bring the Shot Stats Challenger to your racket!
Additionally, we've had great support along the way:
In particular we'd like to thank: Cyril Ebersweiler, Benjamin Joffe, David Drew, Tim Noonan, Jude Poux, KT Kim, Jake Beham, Harwood Hoskins, Noel Joyce, TreCreative, Qiyu, Sally, Rong Rong, and Peter Wang.
Risks and challenges
We’ve been working hard to make Challenger small, smart, and sleek. A lot of progress has been made, and the prototypes you see are real – not renderings or mock-ups. There’s a lot of work to be done developing and refining our algorithms to give you the most accurate data possible.
Although our current prototype housing works pretty well, there are a lot of internal changes that need to happen to make it lighter, stronger, and easier to manufacture in large quantities. The aluminum alloy we are currently using (7075-T6) is quite pricey, but has an unparalleled strength-to-weight ratio. As we develop further we will be learning more about how this material acts and how our housing and latching system needs to function. Because of that it is possible that the overall size and shape of the final product will differ slightly from the prototype you see in the video.
The screen, in addition to adding a ton of functionality, is also a challenge. Screens tend to be fragile and shock-proofing the screen so it stands up to years of abuse is number one on our priority list for the hardware. It’s held up pretty well so far but a lot more testing is required before we can give it our official stamp of approval.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
A new ITF ruling allows for technology to record data during a match although outputting data is still prohibited. Challenger includes a feature that blocks instant feedback, only letting the user sync and view post-match.
We understand the hassle of finding a lost dampener. Challenger isn’t glued to your racket – but it may as well be. It won’t come off until you want it to.
No hardware will ever replace the experience and intuition of a human coach. We developed Challenger not to replace a teacher, but to enhance the teaching experience. We want to provide more data for analysis — with or without a coach — to illuminate technique in a way that hasn’t been accessible to most players - until now. We love tennis; it's really given us so much. We hope that Challenger and products like it can not only help us grow as players, but also help the game of tennis grow so that it can be cherished by future generations. We want this technology to help coaches teach rather than teach them how to coach.
We thought long and hard about the placement of Challenger and believe that the benefits of having the device on your strings will outweigh the downsides of dampening for those who don’t prefer it. That being said we are evaluating the use of different materials that will allow players to enhance or reduce the dampening effect.
Challenger can be attached to — or removed from — any strung racket in seconds. We designed it this way to encourage transferability and sharing.
We will be keeping the size and weight of Challenger to a minimum. As we’re still finalizing components and selecting materials, we are not yet certain of its final weight. But we can tell you that our goal is to keep its weight between that of 2 and 3 dampeners. We'll do this by using specialized lightweight, yet durable aluminum. While any additional mass may affect swing, Challenger is placed toward the middle of the racket for minimal effect on racket balance.
The main metrics will work with any racket. An app will allow more experienced players to add information about their equipment, string type, and string tension to collect more accurate data. As we continue to test more racket/string/tension combinations, we’ll be able to provide even more data to suit the needs of every player. We’ll do our best to use that input data to calibrate the device for more accurate results. You can also change rackets on the fly using the app, to ensure you always have the best data available.
Each player profile will be able to log racket and string specifications. This is not required but may produce better results. If no data is input, default settings will apply. When players switch rackets, they have the option to either change their racket/string settings or switch profiles.
Yes! We believe that opening up Challenger as a platform will allow people to showcase their creativity and develop innovative new data applications.
The data, first and foremost, will be given in real units like MPH and KPH. In addition to the instant data on the device screen a player or coach can view each metric separately or combined with one or more other metrics. For example, would you like to know where on your strings you hit most of your backhand slices? Challenger has the answer.
Since we’re using accelerometer and gyroscope data, it is not possible to directly measure ball speed. However, a large body of research considers methods of extrapolating ball speed from racket data. Although ball speed will not be available when Shot Stats Challenger launches, we will continue to research and refine these methods. If they prove useful, we will release an update to enable this functionality for everyone using Challenger.
Not just yet. We designed Challenger for a tennis racket and tennis swing, but definitely are considering branching off into other racket sports in the future. That being said you can always pick up tennis too :)
Challenger can take quite a beating. We have some stress testing and it is holding up well. However, we don't just want well, we want perfect. We will continue to develop the perfect housing for it to latch securely and durable enough to withstand all impacts.
Our first platforms are iOS and web. We do plan on launching an Android app. The aim is to have one available when we ship.
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