Steve Jobs, Apple’s visionary founder, famously said:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
At Rapsodo the future – and the dots – are now.
Dot patterning designed by the launch monitor company’s engineering team in conjunction with Callaway Golf (more on that in a moment) has become central to the Rapsado MLM2PRO’s upgraded capability to take spin rate and spin axis measurement to pro-level authentication.
How? Let’s find out.
First-Generation MLM Spin Limitations
Before going forward, we, too, should go backward to consider Rapsodo’s first-generation mobile launch monitor (MLM).
Paired with an iPhone or iPad, that product was a revelation, garnering the brand immediate credibility in the category.
It had instant video replay, shot tracing, club gapping and shot dispersion data along with pro-level accuracy for distance, clubhead speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, launch direction and shot apex.
Did we mention it was affordable? Priced at less than $500, it won multiple industry accolades including a 2022 MyGolfSpy Best of Golf award. And it’s worth noting that you can still purchase the original MLM for just $299.
The only box that first Rapsodo MLM didn’t check? Spin function.
Hitting balls or playing golf into a net or screen is good fun but radar technology alone provides an incomplete data set when you can’t quantify spin.
That was the issue for Rapsodo’s original MLM.
Because a net reduces the distance the ball travels, the lack of a traceable trajectory means spin and spin axis can’t be accurately measured.
The other issue with radar alone is space allocation.
The golf ball needs to complete two full revolutions to be effective for spin estimations. Hitting into a net means it often doesn’t have sufficient time to do that.
The major upgrade in Rapsodo’s second-generation MLM2PRO is not one but two high-speed Impact Vision cameras.
Yeah, it’s fast.
Data is captured at 240 frames per second which gives the unit pro-level capability and, specific for spin measurement, provides a more accurate snapshot (sorry!) that isn’t dependent on distance and ball speed. We recently chose 4 readers to test the new MLM2PRO, stay tuned for their full review.
Connecting the Dots … Like Jobs
Augmenting the upgraded dual-camera-infused capability of the MLM2PRO is a Rapsodo Precision Technology (RPT) golf ball.
It’s actually what “connects the dots” of this product relating to spin.
Designed by Rapsodo engineers, a specific dot pattern is printed under the clear coat of the ball and is central to the system’s overall accuracy.
The key is the unit’s algorithms.
In the MLM2PRO, they’ve been trained to detect and measure the RPT dot pattern with a high level of precision.
Right now is a good time to point out the dot pattern’s durability. Since it’s under the clear coat, it can’t be worn down easily.
Callaway Golf with the Assist
Needing a company to produce the RPT golf ball and its specific dot placement, Rapsodo turned to Callaway and its premium-level Chrome Soft X.
The California company’s Truvis print technology and accuracy helped ensure precise placement of the pattern on each ball.
“The Callaway RPT Chrome Soft X golf balls leverage the world-class performance of the Chrome Soft X with our optical technology so the MLM2PRO can track the launch conditions of the ball,” says Jason Finley, Callaway Golf’s Global Director of Brand and Product Management. “This allows golfers to receive information that will help them to optimize their equipment, practice and gapping.”
RPT Quality Control
Strict tolerance standards were put in place by Callaway during the production process. Each RPT golf balls was quality-tested to ensure the print/dot pattern deviated no more than .5 of a millimeter.
That high standard of quality control is critical.
Anything more than that means creates the potential for spin rate and spin axis calculations to be altered by Rapsodo’s Impact Vision camera system.
Testing and More Testing
To its credit, Rapsodo went the extra mile during the testing process to be certain the MLM2PRO delivered accurate and consistent spin data.
That meant a major sample size of data was collected, captured and implemented for “training.”
With the core of the unit’s spin measurement being an advanced machine learning model, Rapsodo engineers had to effectively train the models using 3D simulations to create “an expansive pool of synthetic data.”
The simulations, in lockstep with the data, proved invaluable to recreate a myriad of conditions and scenarios for the MLM2PRO to pass the test for spin.
Synthetic and Real World Data Sets Align
The authenticity of real-world golf shots is still undefeated.
To fine-tune the models, Rapsodo conducted thousands of golf shots in indoor and outdoor environments to navigate the nuanced realties of a golf game.
In all, more than half a million shots were used over two years in training to detect and precisely measure the RPT pattern.
It was time and resources well spent.
Combining the synthetic and real world data has given the MLM2PRO the capability to deliver highly accurate spin data consistently.
Rapsodo MLM2PRO End Game
Rapsodo understood the spin function shortcomings of its first MLM and vowed to make dramatic improvements.
And it has.
You have to use Callaway RPT golf balls to get your spin numbers. No getting around that.
When you do, though, (the MLM2PRO comes with a sleeve but ordering an extra dozen is recommended) you get spin measurements within one percent of the accuracy of the game’s higher-priced premium launch monitors for less than $1,000.
That’s what Steve Jobs would call “connecting the dots.”