How an Apple Watch tennis app helped create a racquet on mental health


In 2016, Robyn Moore was diagnosed with a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. The 43-year-old has gone to a dark place, taking time off from work to take care of her mental health.

Along with therapy, she decided to play sports. She hadn’t bought a tennis racket since she was a child, but doing it now, Moore says, saved her life.

Essential reading: Best Apple Watch Apps To Download Now.

Moore decided she wanted to create a tennis related challenge to give back to people who also suffered from mental health issues. It came in the form of Breakpoint 2019, a challenge of hitting a ball 30 consecutive days at 46 venues â € “ 8-10 hours a day â ???? which totaled 200,000 tennis strokes hit over a distance of 5 million meters.

This number was not arbitrary. Moore wanted the distance traveled to represent every adult in the UK with mental health issues. But she needed something to keep up with that relentless ball strike, and after extensive research into tennis trackers, she decided to use the Apple Watch Swing app.

The tennis app is able to analyze your tennis swing and, more importantly for Moore, keep score accurately. Moore reached out to Swing co-founder and CEO Swupnil Sahai to talk about his challenge. Sahai, who always responds personally to all comments and questions sent to the team, was struck by the unique use of the app. Throughout those long days in the field, they kept in daily contact to make sure the number of shots matched the application correctly.

His challenge also prompted Sahai and his small team to add new features like the ability to overlay the number of real-time shots on video feeds Moore could share to show his progress. This close relationship has helped Moore raise over £ 30,000 for charity.

With Wimbledon kicking off and Apple’s WWDC conference still recent, now is a good time to speak to Sahai. It was at WWDC 2019 where Apple unveiled the next big iteration of its watchOS smartwatch platform. The highlights of watchOS 6 include the introduction of an app store on the device and more features that will help Apple’s smartwatch become less reliant on the iPhone.

While we were skeptical of the importance of an Apple App Store that lives on the wrist, Sahai believes it will be a big deal for some watch developers and owners. “If you don’t want to download this gigantic app, now you can just have this kind of lite version,” he said. “A lot of people who use our app and others don’t necessarily want all of this detailed information, they just want to get a workout and that’s it. It will definitely make a difference on the app front.”

But that’s not the only new feature that the developer of the Swing app is eagerly awaiting. “One thing that excites us is the general machine learning capabilities that will be introduced and improved,” he said.

Gestures overall are going to be a big part of the future of Apple watches

“Vision-based body tracking technology, for example, is something we can use instead of developing our own solution in-house. We could do some sort of gesture recognition where you raise your hand to point out the point in a game, “he said.” The other thing is ARKit – we definitely want to incorporate augmented reality at some point. So users could see overlapping shots on the field or see how far you ran on the field, leaving you to see a path on the field. AR is very interesting, it will really increase coaching. ”

Apple’s AR ambitions have been well documented over the past few years, having so far been pushed through its phone and tablet hardware. But the Apple AR smart glasses are still believed to be in the works. Sahai believes, however, that the Apple Watch should not be seen as playing a vital role in the future of Apple’s augmented reality.

“I think the closest analogy is that of VR headsets,” Sahai said. “If you look at these devices, you also have a controller in your hand. Having something on your wrist controlling movement, coupled with augmented reality, is an interesting concept. You could have some great uses for control. Reality. augmented is an interesting thing that Apple is working on. “

While Sahai and his team have spent a lot of time with Apple’s smartwatch, there are some features they are always excited to discover. “I think the biggest thing that we haven’t used yet is this ability to record data at 800 samples per second,” he said. “Our current app is running at 100 samples per second because that’s all you need for basic detection. But with 800 samples per second, you can do things like recognize gestures instead of swiping to change. the score. You can use a gesture like waving your hand to do it. Gestures overall are going to be a big part of the future of the Apple Watch. ”

The future of swing lies in racquet, and he hopes to expand into sports like table tennis and any other racquet sport where it can be useful. It’s about using the software he created to offer tracking beyond sports, like being used on an assembly line to keep an eye on workers and make sure they don’t get injured. He’s not limited to sports, but with the small team he’s trying to make his tennis app the best it can be, with some great features slated for later in 2019.

Being part of experiences like Robyn Moore’s Challenge changed the approach Sahai and his team took to building apps. “Right now we have people contacting us, like people from the wheelchair tennis community for example. We want to make tennis training accessible, that’s why we are doing it. It inspired us to do it. to do. ”

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