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August 27, 2013

Tech Watch: SwingSmart swing analyzer

Posted at 1:02 PM by Mark Dee | Categories: PGA Championship, Training Aids

Swingsmart_300If you tuned into this year's PGA Championship pre- and post-games on CBS Sports Network, you may be wondering what bit of digital wizardry they were using to analyze Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley and Zach Johnson's swings on the range.

Well, that's something you can do on your own range (minus the television audience). The product is called the SwingSmart, a sensor that attaches to your club and maps your swing via a free app.

Here's how it works: Take the adaptor plate, and strap it below the grip. Then, take the second piece -- the sensor itself -- and clip it on. In all, the apparatus weighs 17 grams, and since it is banded (as opposed to clamped) to the club, the SwingSmart claims not to deaden the feel of your shaft. Next: Open the app on your iPhone, Android, or tablet, select the club you are about to use from your customizable "digital bag," and go. The sensor self-calibrates to determine the "zero-point" in your swing, so you don't have to be dead still to start, or hit any more buttons. In a couple of seconds, via a proprietary BlueTooth module, your swing pops up on your screen in a swipe-able, 3-D view.

So what's it actually recording? Swing path, for one. The sensor extrapolates that data it receives under the grip to determine where the club head is, and then traces your swing in 3-D. (Note: The body you see in this mode is just a placeholder; since there is no sensor on your body, SwingSmart can't tell what's going on there.) It also gets you four "key" stats, as determined by instructor/spokesman/product consultant Peter Kostis: club head speed, face angle, tempo (the ration of backswing to downswing), and "attack angle," which is actually the angle your shaft is leaning at impact.

In the app, Kostis himself will tell you what those numbers mean, as well as provide pre-recorded instructional videos to help you use the data SwingSmart collects. According to the company, that data is within a 2-3% margin of error, measured against TrackMan and FlightScope.

SwingSmart works for every club in the bag, down to your putter, and can be used with or without a ball. It also lets you save data on your good swings -- you know, to remember them by -- and has a split-screen function to compare two moves and track improvement (hopefully).

All in, SwingSmart costs $249 and comes with one sensor, and two adaptor plates

(Photos: Courtesy of SwingSmart)

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