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Volley: Simulating Racquet Sports Gameplay with an AI-Enabled Ball Machine

Image Credits: Volley
By: Headliners News / March 15, 2024

Meet Volley, a pioneering sports tech startup based in Sunnyvale, and who is poised to transform the landscape of racquet sports training with its innovative AI-enabled sports training machine. Founded by brothers John and Dan Weinlader, both with engineering backgrounds and previous experience in building an AgriTech business for John Deere, Volley aims to provide players of platform tennis, padel, and pickleball with a revolutionary training experience.

Unlike conventional tennis ball machines that offer basic ball launch capabilities, Volley’s trainer robot harnesses the power of AI and vision software to revolutionize training sessions. By collecting data in real-time and leveraging AI algorithms, the machine can simulate live gameplay scenarios, allowing players to hone their skills without the need for a full team.

CEO John Weinlader emphasizes the versatility of Volley’s technology, catering to players of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. With its advanced AI capabilities, the machine adapts to the player’s skill level and mimics the behavior of a real opponent, providing a realistic training experience.

One of Volley’s key innovations is its integration of three cameras into the device, enabling functions such as person and ball tracking, video recording, and remote maintenance support. The inclusion of a speaker and LED screen facilitates guided workouts, while the machine’s adjustable height and angle offer flexibility in shot angles.

The accompanying mobile app provides players with access to customized drills, video footage for performance review, player stats, and more. Through the app, users can digitally control the machine, selecting precise landing spots for the ball. Moreover, Volley’s AI-driven system stores data from each session, allowing players to seamlessly resume training from where they left off.

Volley’s commitment to innovation is evident in its continuous addition of new features to enhance the training experience. Recent updates include a side-by-side video comparison feature and upcoming hand gesture control capabilities, set to be demonstrated at the RacquetX Conference later this month.

Since its release in September 2023, Volley’s trainers have garnered significant attention and demand, selling out within four months. Distributed to over 45 platform tennis and padel clubs across the U.S., Volley’s trainers have received acclaim for their ability to simulate live play on the court effectively.

Looking ahead, Volley aims to expand its reach further, with plans to lease trainers to individual players with at-home courts. A recent partnership with the American Platform Tennis Association (APTA) reflects Volley’s commitment to broadening its impact within the racquet sports community.

While Volley has been entirely self-funded thus far, the company is now in the process of raising its first round of external funding, poised to propel its business growth and innovation to new heights. As the popularity of racquet sports continues to soar, Volley stands at the forefront of technology-driven training solutions, poised to revolutionize the way players train and compete.

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