Next-Gen Sensors Make Golf Clubs, Tennis Rackets, and Baseball Bats Smarter Than Ever

Sensor fusion and integrated MEMS are essential tools for today’s athletes

10 min read
Hunter Mahon photo: Dylan Coulter; Data Graphics: John Le Pore
Hunter Mahon photo: Dylan Coulter; Data Graphics: John Le Pore

A golfer stands in the dreaded sand trap, carefully considering how to balance his weight as he eyes the ball. He takes a few practice swings. If he swings too deeply, he’ll hit the ground and lose another stroke. It’s a tough shot, but he swings without hesitation. Embedded in his club are microelectromechanical system (MEMS) devices—tiny machines with elements about the thickness of a human hair. These devices aren’t going to swing the club for him, but he’s been using them to analyze his swing and practice this shot. Maybe this time he’ll make it.

The wild popularity of smartphones and wearables has been driving down the cost of MEMS devices, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and pressure sensors. These minuscule chips help to count steps, track calories burned, and monitor heart rate. Such data are useful, sure, but while these devices may nudge users to be more active, they don’t actually improve a swing, a punch, or a kick. To do so means moving sensors off the wrist and into sports gear—and that’s quickly happening. Indeed, you can now buy sensor-based equipment that can boost your performance, not only for golf but also for tennis, baseball, boxing, and soccer.

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2022—The Year the Hydrogen Economy Launched?

The Inflation Reduction Act and the war in Ukraine pump billions into clean hydrogen R&D

5 min read
A man in a blue lab coat looks at equipment in a lab

A technician at Plug Power in Concord, Mass., secures a connector before a test of a hydrogen electrolyzer on 5 July 2022.

Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Among the technological visions that seem perpetually futuristic (think commercial nuclear fusion and maglev trains), the hydrogen economy has always been tantalizing. Hydrogen produced from renewable energy or nuclear power, with minimal greenhouse-gas emissions, could be piped or transported pretty much anywhere, using mostly existing infrastructure. It could power trucks, cars, planes, and ships and generate electricity, either in fuel cells or combustion turbines. In short, it could do anything fossil fuels do now, but with substantially reduced climate impact.

Now, after decades of false starts and overly optimistic projections, several factors are giving an unprecedented lift to clean hydrogen. In the United States, sweeping legislation capped a series of moves by the country’s Department of Energy (DOE) over the past year to drive down the cost of low-carbon hydrogen and stimulate demand for the fuel. And in Europe, a looming fossil-fuel crisis has sent officials scrambling to find alternatives to the 155 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas that EU countries imported in 2021.

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How Big Robotic Dreams Mesh With Viral Videos

Boston Dynamics’s founder thinks creatively with $400 million AI Institute

12 min read
Marc Raibert, an older white man with a bald head and a short white beard and glasses, gestures as he speaks on a stage. He is wearing formal pants and a flower-print short sleeve shirt.

Marc Raibert, founder and chairman of Boston Dynamics, speaks at a Hyundai Motor Group news conference during CES 2022 in Las Vegas.

Steve Marcus/Reuters/Alamy

Last week, Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics announced an initial investment of over US $400 million to launch the new Boston Dynamics AI Institute. The Institute was conceptualized (and will be led) by Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, with the goal of “solving the most important and difficult challenges facing the creation of advanced robots.” That sounds hugely promising, but of course we had questions—namely, what are those challenges, how is this new institute going to solve them, and what are these to-be-created advanced robots actually going to do? And fortunately, IEEE Spectrum was able to speak with Marc Raibert himself to get a better understanding of what the Institute will be all about.

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Free On-Demand Webinars on Data Acquisition Boards and Their Applications

Explore the basics of digitizers, pulse detection, peer-to-peer streaming, and more

1 min read

Dive into the world of digitizers and explore how they can benefit your application. Explore the basics of digitizers, pulse detection, peer-to-peer streaming, and more. Whether you are a scientist, engineer, student or if you want to know more about Teledyne SP Devices deep knowledge base there is something for everyone. Register now for these free webinars!