Way Beyond the Wristband: Crazy-Smart Fitness Trackers Now in Basketballs, Tennis Rackets, and Bikes

The next wave of exercise tracking devices aren't hulking watches that count your steps (and not much else), they're built into the athletic equipment you're already using.

Photos courtesy of respective companies

Weekend warriors gearing up for a marathon or mud run have long used the data recorded by GPS watches and heart-rate monitors to study the success of each sweat session, then tailor their training the next time out. But outside of running, documenting performance stats has been limited—until now. "The minuscule power consumption and near-instantaneous response time of updated technologies make it possible to track minute details in real time, where previous wireless electronics could not," says Suke Juwanda, CMO of Bluetooth SIG. The next wave of exercise-tracking devices aren't hulking watches that count your steps (and not much else)—they're built into the athletic equipment you're already using. So if you have ambitions of dribbling a basketball like Rondo or whacking a tennis ball like Nadal, now you can check your progress. Here are the three highly intelligent sports gear we're most excited about.

Babolat Play Pure Drive tennis racket

This new racket (10 years in the making) offers tennis fans order in the court. The accelerometer, gyroscope, and microprocessor embedded in the handle (without adding weight) detect vibrations that pass through the frame as you strike the ball, then send information on your shot power, impact location, and rate of spin to an app on your smartphone via Bluetooth. Compare your data against the rest of the Babolat Play community or challenge your tennis partner to a head-to-head competition of playing technique.

$399; babolat.com

Garmin Vector power meter pedals

The same type-A set that prefers Flywheel to SoulCycle because of the leaderboard will love clipping into these pedals. Attach them to your road bike and—thanks to sensors that measure deflection in the pedal spindle as you ride and determine the force you're exerting with each turn—track cadence, total power in watts, and how your left leg's workload compares with your right leg's. The data is wirelessly transmitted in real time to compatible ANT+ enabled cycling computers and watches.

$1,700; garmin.com

94Fifty Smart Sensor basketball

Your neighborhood pickup game is about to get a lot more competitive. Nine sensors that measure 6,000 pieces of data at once enable this ball to calculate the arc angle of your shot, number of backspin rotations, and dribble control. Leave your smartphone on the sidelines (within 90 feet) and the information is uploaded via Bluetooth to the corresponding app (which stores up to four distinct players' stats for up to three months). Post-game, stash it on its wireless charging pad.

$295; 94fifty.com

—Details senior editor Danielle McNally.

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