Smart, connected IoT golf grip with PGA Tour professional Bryson DeChambeau and Microsoft partner Sensoria
Microsoft technology partner Sensoria, professional golfer Bryson DeChambeau, the Microsoft Developer and Evangelism team, and other golf partners recently collaborated to build a new high-tech IoT solution involving a smart, connected golf grip. Mike Downey, Principal Evangelist for Microsoft Sports Partnerships, sat down with Bryson early on to find out his important golf needs. Grip pressure was at the top of his list of requests and is an important factor in consistency that isn’t measured by any other company.
The “Smart Grip” detects Bryson’s hand-on-grip position and levels of pressure, monitors his golf strokes on different clubs, and relays real-time data to Microsoft Azure intelligent systems. The data is then rendered for Bryson on a Microsoft Surface with an elegant Universal Windows Platform application (UWP app) using XAML and Microsoft Visual Studio.
Key technologies used
- Universal Windows Platform app
- Microsoft Visual Studio
- Microsoft Power BI
- Azure Event Hubs
- Azure SQL Database
- Azure Stream Analytics
- Davide Vigano – Chief Executive Officer, Sensoria
- Maurizio Macagno – Chief Technology Officer, Sensoria
- Davide Mauri – Director Software Development & Cloud Infrastructure, Sensoria
- Dave Svab – Director Smart Garment Engineering, Sensoria
- Roberto Reif – Digital Signal Engineer, Sensoria
- Blake Coudriet – Electrical Engineer, Sensoria
- Matt Kueper – Mechanical Engineer, Sensoria
- Warren Kline – Firmware Engineer, Sensoria
- Maria Pia Carmagnani – Smart Garment Engineer, Sensoria
- Bryson DeChambeau – PGA Professional Golfer
- Blain Barton – Senior Technical Evangelist, Developer and Evangelism, Microsoft
- Jerry Nixon – Senior Technical Evangelist, Developer and Evangelism, Microsoft
- Mike Downey – Principal Evangelist, Sports Partnerships Evangelism, Microsoft
Sensoria, Inc., a Microsoft technology partner located in Redmond, Washington, is a leading developer of smart garments and IoE (Internet of Everyone) wearable solutions that improve people’s lives. Their proprietary sensor, electronics, and software platform enables Sensoria-powered garments to convert data into actionable information to health and fitness users in real time.
The garments are breathable, using a moisture-wicking fabric that allows athletes to work out in comfort. Sensoria sportswear is designed for all levels of fitness enthusiasts. Whether your favorite regime consists of running, cycling, spinning, HIIT, or doing Cross Fit™, tracking your heart rate can help you maximize your workout. Sensoria provides actionable heart rate metrics without uncomfortable and cumbersome chest straps. They also produce other wearables such as smart socks and robust mobile applications to track your every step.
In the game of golf, many factors impact the ability to consistently drive or putt a golf ball to its exact intended destination. One of these factors is the pressure (or force) with which the golfer grips the golf club. There are multiple theories on what the right pressure on grip should be, but they are all subjective and hard to quantify…until now. By monitoring this variable, golfers who have developed consistency in gripping the club the same way at every stroke on the golf course have a distinct advantage over those who grip the club differently (too tightly or loosely) from hole to hole. Most golfers are inconsistent in their grip throughout the game or tournament due to factors such as stress and fatigue. It is well known that a tight grip makes a golfer lose distance and often precision as well.
Consistency of grip during a drive or putt is key to predictably and repeatedly placing the ball at the desired location. The ability to measure consistency of grip—and provide confirmation to the golfer ahead of swinging the club—reduces (or removes) one of the many variables that ultimately affects where the golf ball lands. This allows golfers to focus on other variables that they have less control over, such as wind speed and direction, condition and layout of the fairway, and obstacles.
Solution, steps, and delivery
Responding to this challenge, Sensoria and Microsoft partnered to develop a proof of concept Smart Grip to measure the force/pressure exerted by Bryson DeChambeau’s hands on his JumboMax custom-developed golf grips, and provide him with valuable and actionable audio/visual feedback ahead of swinging the club, assisting him to achieve a consistent grip from swing to swing. The solution was built in less than eight weeks thanks to the Microsoft platform and the Sensoria SDK.
The Smart Grip is powered by the ultra-light and powerful Sensoria® Core: a highly customizable piece of embeddable microelectronics weighing under half an ounce and measuring just one inch square.
Sensoria Core allows elegant, rapid prototyping and creation of smart wearables, garments, sport accessories, and many other IoT devices.
The ARM® Cortex®-M4 processor is used as a high-performance embedded processor with DSP instructions developed to address digital signal control markets that demand an efficient, easy-to-use blend of control and signal processing capabilities. The processor is highly configurable, enabling a wide range of implementations from those requiring floating point operations, memory protection, and powerful trace technology to cost-sensitive devices requiring minimal area. It uses the Keil RTX, a royalty-free, deterministic Real-Time Operating System designed for ARM and Cortex-M devices. It allows you to create programs that simultaneously perform multiple functions, and helps to create applications that are better structured and more easily maintained.
The Sensoria® Core relays real-time grip pressure from eight embedded pressure sensors in each grip. Data can be viewed in real time by using the provided UWP app shown in this diagram.
It also provides a wealth of data on club movement in space (using its built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer) via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to a UWP app. This app stores the data in the Sensoria cloud powered by Azure, and graphically renders pressure of the hands in relation to the golf grip on a Windows Surface device.
Power BI was used to display data to the application during the swing analysis in the proof of concept.
Lastly, Visual Studio and XAML were used to build the application.
Because the pressure and movement data lives in the cloud, it can easily be leveraged to inform analysis for building new intelligent golf data streams for machine learning, and in the future, remote assisted coaching. From an architectural standpoint, the following diagram shows how the system is designed.
Azure SQL Database and other databases were used in the solution to capture pressure data.
The solution used Azure Stream Analytics for outputting from Azure Event Hubs to SQL Database.
Conclusion and opportunities going forward
The proof of concept Smart Grip is now complete and is currently undergoing testing with Bryson DeChambeau. All parties learned a lot about golf strategies and equipment design in this new Sports Analytics space. We plan to revisit Bryson to review the data patterns that are being captured by the Smart Grip during his play. The data collected from Bryson over time will be analyzed during future phases of the project in a Machine Learning environment to build new intelligent golf data streams, helping him determine the right grip and club usage, swing speed, rhythm, plane, and other performance and swing-mechanics variables.
Testimonials from Sensoria
“By combining the power of the Microsoft Cloud with Sensoria® Core, we were able to develop a revolutionary technology platform that can be leveraged to create not only IoT-enabled golf clubs, but also any kind of other connected sports accessories, smart apparel, and footwear.”
“The Internet of Things will finally allow companies to better understand how their products are utilized by athletes and consumers, inform their R&D teams, and eventually build better products.”
- Explore Azure IoT Hub documentation
- Find IoT devices and starter kits: Azure IoT device catalog
- Try any Azure services for free: Create your free Azure account today
- Check out a curated collection of IoT learning resources: Microsoft Technical Community Content on GitHub
- Read more IoT-focused technical case studies (like this one)
- Video of the Connected Golf Grip technology