Smart fun with the PIQ wristband
PIQ monitors your arm movement as you play, collecting data about forehands, backhands and serves
With smart technology now available to enhance many different sports, we hit the courts to road-test PIQ’s device
PIQ is the company behind the smart technology that underpins Babolat’s tennis-specific POP wristband. PIQ (pronounced “peak”) has applications across many sports, including tennis, golf, skiing and kite surfing and there are plans to roll it out across more in the future. PIQ is a small watch-sized device that you insert into a wristband. You turn it on and it monitors your arm movement as you play, collecting data realted to forehands, backhands and serves.
You can view some data on the PIQ device itself rather than through the app on a smartphone. On court, for example, I could see that my serve had reached a maximum speed. When I tried a different racket, I saw my serve speed increase. So the PIQ can give you empirical evidence about how a specific racket affects your performance. I could imagine using the device while trying out different rackets before buying a new frame.
To view more detailed stats you need the PIQ app, which can be downloaded from the Apple store or Google Play. I knew beforehand that I always favoured my forehand, but looking at the percentage of forehands and backhands that I was hitting I was quite surprised. I was hitting 87 per cent of my shots off the forehand wing.
PIQ gives you a mark for your racket head speed, spin rate and style (how smoothly you hit the ball). The three marks combined create your PIQ score. Babolat professionals spent many hours playing with the device, enabling the team at PIQ to calculate that a pro PIQ score would be around 10,000. To give you an idea of where your score might be, my score was a very modest 4,750; my hitting partner, who is a good level club player, had a score around 5,500; and the 21-year-old who had just come back from a year training at a US university scored around 8,000.
The device is intended to make tennis fun. Of course, it is about improving performance, but the idea behind it is that if you have fun playing tennis you will play more and as a consequence improve. I could see how I could get hooked on increasing my score – and certainly my serve speed.
For serious match players, wearing the device during competition will reveal data about how performance is affected by pressure, and how that might affect serve speed and percentages.
The device is not meant to replace a coach; it enables you to learn more about how you play. The easy-to-use app also allows you to set up communities so you can compare stats with friends, fellow club players or a wider group.
As more people use the PIQ, the increased data can be mined even deeper, so you could for example drill down a leaderboard and look at speed of serve or groundstroke percentages.