Alabama Startup Tennibot Shows Off Their $900 Robotic Tennis Ball Hopper At CES
Tennibot, an Alabama based sports and recreation startup, showed off their Tennibot robotic tennis ball hopper at CES 2017. This was the second year for the company in Eureka Park, CES’ area for global startups.
Tennibot is a robotic machine that hunts and gathers tennis balls on the tennis court so the players don’t have to. It uses cameras and sensors to find the tennis balls scattered about the court. After it finds the balls it comes back to the players side where they can be retrieved.
Of course the robotic tennis ball machine has an accompanying app. The app is great for players as it tracks the number of balls played/retrieved by the machine itself.
“Tennibot automatically keeps track of the number of balls you hit and how frequent you practice. You can easily share your achievements with your tennis buddies on social media. ” The company says on their website.
The app will also let you decide where you want the Tennibot to pick balls up. Tennibot can pick up balls on both sides of the court, a single side of the court or only at the net. Profiles and preferences can be saved so that Tennibot knows who it’s working for.
The technology sounded amazing enough to Huffington Post’s Mark Hawtin who raved after CES 2016 “One of the mos exciting things we saw at CES 2016”.
Tennibot founder, Haitham Eletrabi, got a chance to pitch on the Techstars stage at CES 2017. Tennibot was in the VR and Robotics category led by Techstars director Ryan Kuder.
Even with all the hype and praise leading up to their appearance on the Techstars stage, the judges didn’t seem to agree. Like many, Kuder and the other judges raised the question, “Why would someone want to pay $900 for your machine when a tennis ball hopper is $20”. You can see the question at about the one minute mark in the video above.
This begs an even bigger question, at a $900 price point how many of 17 million tennis players in the US will buy this thing. Also, will it get in the way during a competitive match. Are we making ball boys and ball girls obsolete?