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"The Most Important Sports Technology Announcement Apple Just Made" in Humanizing Tech

Apple Watch’s Swing Detection for Baseball, Golf, Tennis & Anything with a Club

Apple Watch’s official marketing site doesn’t have a single word or image related to “swinging”. I guess that falls in the “Other” category?

I. Health Tracking Could Save Your Life

Apple’s 2016 WWDC had a number of little tidbits in it, but because I’m specifically interested in the intersection of technology and health. I track as much data as I can in Apple’s Health app because I have a feeling it will save my life some day.

That’s why I haven’t taken off my Apple Watch in an entire year, use an app like Gyroscope to help me track sleep, workouts, weight, body fat, computer time, and locations. I’ve even gone so far that I bought a separate piece of hardware, the Withings scale, and enter caffeine and water intake using the Workflowy app. It started before a trip to the ER, but I’ve doubled down since:

How Going to the ER turned into the Only App in my iPhone’s Dock

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Did you know that every single form of cancer is different because of each human’s DNA and biology? That means there won’t be 1 cure for cancer, but 7.4 billion cures. One specific to each man, woman, and child. Know how we get there? Lots of data plus AI to find the one thing that matters for your biology and turn that cancer switch off. (Thanks Mia for the surprising insight :)

But I digress.

II. Starting Up Swingbyte

This story, however, actually starts many many moons ago in the fall of 2010. I was attending the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, working as a management consultant and running my own creative agency all at the same time. Things were busy, but one of the classmates was a software engineer so we hit it off and got to talking about startups. He had started a company called Swingbyte, running a team of ballistic missile scientists from Russia (he was also Russian) to track the arc, velocity, and 3D orientation of anyone’s golf swing.

He ended up hiring my creative tech agency, Evolyte, to build out the user experience and the iOS front-end for the app while his team built the back-end and the mathematics to make it all possible.

Below are a few of the designs and final screenshots that made it into the app, including a walkthrough, that we took from concept to final build from 2010 to 2011. It doesn’t sound like a long time ago, but remember that this was when iOS 4 was just announced. iOS 4! That’s 6 generations ago well before the Apple Watch was even a twinkle in Steve’s eye.

Swingbyte iPhone and iPad app concepts for tracking golf swings using a dongle attached to the club.

If you’re curious about some of the other work we did that preceeded the Apple Watch, you can have a read through this about Clock Faces.

III. Enter Apple Watch

Ping, the golf company, was featured on Apple Watch’s original website back in early 2015. It was a small picture in a small section, but it showed an app that tracked your golf swing using the Watch instead of a dongle. It looked like this:

I just checked the Ping app that’s currently available in the app store. Wouldn’t you know it, it looks exactly the same. Here’s a screen shot from the App Store:

So how can someone improve on all of this? Well, a few weeks ago Apple gave us a head start, and laid the groundwork for extending it to any sort of swing.

IV. SwingWatch, Apple’s Open-Source Watch App

At WWDC this year, Apple made a number of software-related announcements for the Apple Watch. We’ll have to wait for the fall to see the updates for the hardware (both case and bands). But Apple did publish a little known library that nobody has linked to, talked about, nor made it to the popular or even-Apple specific press.

They called it SwingWatch and it’s a complete working app for a tennis-type swing. Now, you still have to hand code some of the configurations, like how long it should take for your wrist to spin before detecting that a “swing” had occurred (i.e., enter the yaw value for angular rotation). But what it doesn’t require is a team of missile scientists.

SwingWatch: Using Device Motion on the Watch

This little beauty should give you what you need to get started, and extend it to other sports like baseball, golf, racquetball, table tennis, badminton, and any other novel sports coming up in Rio this summer. Me smells opportunity!

V. The Future

I like to find these little treasures and pass them along because I think they’re valuable as fodder for entrepreneurs, but also because it helps the ecosystem. The more people who buy a Watch, the more Apple will invest in the product, and the more data we get as a human species. The more data we get, the more we’re able to use it to help humanity live healthier lives, but more importantly, fight and cure disease.

Cancer is one of those things that has either affected you directly or you know someone who it has affected. The Apple Watch is a first step towards doing something about that.

Today, the tech community is working on health from the outside-in. Fitness trackers and the Apple Watch are examples of that. But in the future, we’ll develop technology that will work from the inside-out.

You won’t log information about what you ate, how many steps you took, how much caffeine you consumed, or how much alcohol you drank. Rather, a sensor will just tell you that whatever you just did increased your stress levels 25%, reduced your life span by 13 minutes, and reduced your cognitive abilities by 10%. That’s some heavy information. You might not do that all-night bender again. You might stop eating fried foods. And you might start lifting weights instead of just going through the motions on an EFX.

Ideally, it will also be able to detect cancer before it develops, and give you a heads up about something in your system that’s not performing correctly. I venture that most folks would be price inelastic for that (read: I’d spend any amount of money necessary to save my own life).

A golf, baseball, or tennis swing is just a very small “step” to be tracked along that path.

— Sean


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The Most Important Sports Technology Announcement Apple Just Made was originally published in Humanizing Tech on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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from Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/295ZCJT