Slinger and SPRINT can transform a smartphone into a state-of-the-art biomechanics lab

A collaboration between ACU and sport technology company Slinger is set to democratise biomechanics analysis previously only available to the world’s top tennis players.

From weekend enthusiasts all the way up to tennis greats like Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal, players of all abilities stand to benefit from the soon-to-be-released Slinger tennis app, which has been validated by ACU’s Sports Performance, Recovery, Injury and New Technologies (SPRINT) Research Centre and the university’s School of Behavioural and Health Sciences.

Powered by artificial intelligence technology from GAMEFACE.AI (a Sydney-based technology company acquired by Slinger earlier this year), the Slinger app will transform a tennis player’s phone into a portable laboratory capable of capturing and analysing an assortment of biomechanical data and delivering accurate and personalised performance insights.

The app uses the phone’s camera to record a player’s on-court movement and strokes. AI software then gets to work, capturing video and data and delivering personalized feedback on foundation, weight transfer and consistency of contact point.

SPRINT’s Dr Grant Duthie and Dr Raul Landeo used ACUs state-of-the-art VICON laboratory, the gold standard in motion capture technology, to validate the accuracy of the app’s AI engine in a lab setting. To the best knowledge of Slinger, it is the first time that a tennis technology has put itself up against VICON for accuracy testing.

“Slinger wanted to know if it could accurately track landmarks on the body as they move through a defined space,” said Dr Duthie, a senior lecturer and expert in player-worn microtechnology who has also worked with FIFA, the Australian Rugby Union and Japan Rugby Union.

“It gets a big tick from me. GAMEFACE.AI displayed excellent agreement in the tracking of body landmarks when compared to the industry gold standard VICON system.”  

The Slinger partnership is the latest collaboration for SPRINT which provides sports science backing to some of the world’s top organisations, including the NFL and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. SPRINT also provides research and consultancy services to high performance environments, including professional and collegiate sporting organisations, governing bodies as well as Defence, special operations and emergency services units to achieve excellence in their specific domains.

The services provided by SPRINT span their three major research programs; performance, recovery, and injury; all of which is underpinned with an emphasis on new and emerging technologies.

Set for a beta release later this month, the Slinger app will be a game changer for tennis enthusiasts and budding pros. The technology has potential applications for a variety of racquet and bat sports, including cricket, baseball, softball and pickleball.

“Body worn microtechnology is barely recognisable to what first appeared about twenty years ago,” Dr Duthie said. “The big shift has been into camera-based systems. It is truly mind-blowing to think what AI will do two decades from now.”

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