I have a horrifying golf swing. I bend my arm when I shouldn't. I have the follow-through of a lovelorn-but-unconfident teenager. My head bops up at the exact moment that years of golf instruction have taught me to keep it down. And while I may not know the precise direction the ball will fly when my club makes contact with it — if my club makes contact with it — I can predict fairly comfortably that it's not going to be the direction I think I'm aiming.
I know all this, because my iPhone can tell me. Or to be more precise, the golf instructor watching from the other end of a video captured by my iPhone's camera can tell me. More important, that same instructor can tell me what I need to do to improve without us ever meeting face to face.
All of this golfing enlightenment comes courtesy of MobiCoach, which uses an app, a Bluetooth accessory, and your own mobile device to connect you with instructors from reputable golf academies around the world. The idea is to remove the physical barriers between you and an instructor — the app lets you seek out coaching whether you're at a driving range or in your backyard — so that you practice regularly and avoiding falling into the kind of bad habits that have overpowered my golf game.
Mobiplex, the company which offers the MobiCoach product, touts it as real-time, remote golf coaching and video analysis service. "It's a very advanced collaborative platform," Vijay Nadkarni, Mobiplex's founder and CEO, told me as he demonstrated MobiCoach on the terrace outside TechHive's offices. (Proof, I guess, that you really can work on your golf game just about anywhere.)
There's certainly no disputing the demand for services that help you improve at golf, a game that got its name only because all of the good curse words were already taken. And the advent of smartphones has brought about another avenue for delivering golfers the tips they crave.
The mobile SwingTip Golf Swing Analyzer app pairs with a $100 SwingTip sensor that attaches to the shaft of a golf club. When you swing, the sensor is gathering data on your swing speed and tempo, which it shares with the app over Bluetooth. (The sensor itself runs on a rechargeable battery. Nadkarni says that a fully charged device could last for 1,000 swings in a practice session, which isn't my actual score for an 18-hole round of golf, though sometimes it feels like it.) The sensor also triggers the camera on an iOS device you've got set up nearby so that you can capture video of your swing.
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