Mobiplex has already been at the forefront of golf technology with their SwingTIP device that helps golfers better understand and break down their swings. They also understand that lessons are the most consistent way for golfers to improve and the most don’t take them because of cost and time restraints. With that in mind, they are using technology to make lessons more affordable and more accessible, something that really could revolutionize the way golfers think about lessons. THP got to go through first-hand instruction via the MobiCoach platform to see just how it works.
From Mobiplex on MobiCoach:
Sports training will soon never be the same. Mobiplex, makers of SwingTIP, are today introducing MobiCoach—the world’s first real-time, remote golf coaching and video analysis service. With the aid of the free SwingTIP iOS app, golfers can improve their game via a live lesson from a coach anywhere in the world. Launched today, the new MobiCoach service includes a growing roster of top golf coaches from institutions such as Nicklaus Academies, Troon Golf Academy and Jeff Ritter Golf.
Mobiplex has developed a powerful mobile, cloud-based software platform that brings coaches and students together wherever they may be. With the MobiCoach service, golfers can get high quality coaching in as little as 15 minutes be it at home or on the range.
There are two ways for golfers to utilize the MobiCoach service: either as a free standalone SwingTIP iOS app; or by combining the same app with a SwingTIP motion sensor and the iOS app for richer analysis.
The free SwingTIP iOS app will include a coach-initiated video capture feature, where the coach can remotely record and view a live video of the golfer’s swing, while the golfer focuses on the instruction. Next, the coach can offer immediate feedback and continue to monitor and advise on the golfer’s swing or putt over the course of the lesson. And, by using the SwingTIP sensor, a more complete level of analysis is enabled.
The MobiCoach cloud-based service incorporates:
- Live Voice Over IP (VOIP) – a live voice call between the student and coach
- Auto-Video Sharing – records the golfer’s swing or putt; instantly displays to the coach
- DisplaySync™ – mirrors the coach’s screen to the student’s for visual instruction
- Real-time Whiteboarding – enables the coach to diagram feedback instructions on the mobile display to further illustrate imperfections and corrections
- Side by Side Comparison – coach can compare and annotate two swings concurrently
- Comprehensive Backend – within a personal MySwingTIP.com page, a golfer can choose an academy or coach, book lessons and pay securely (while coaches can also promote their services, as well as publish their calendar and coaching rates).
Setup and Ease of Use:
With the main deterrents to people taking proper instruction on the golf swing being cost and accessibility, the idea of using technology to conquer these gaps is a great one, but only if it is incredibly easy to set up and use.
With MobiCoach, the first thing that should be stated for clarity is that you do NOT need a SwingTIP in order to take lessons. Instead, you simply need to download the SwingTip app to your iOS device (Android IS in production right now and will be ready soon). If you have the SwingTIP it will record the swing data and send it to your instructor, but you absolutely do not need to go out and buy a device.
MobiCoach currently has over 25 golf professionals available and the process of setting a lesson up was easy and streamlined. The golfer simply needs to set up a user account (free) on the MobiCoach website and after logging in they can select the “coaching” tab. Here all of the instructors available are listed, along with the price for a 15-minute lesson. The prices vary from instructor to instructor with some, like Jeff Ritter, being some of the more recognized names in golf instruction. From here you select the instructor and are able to see both a calendar of available times and a full bio of the instructor and their background, skills, and accolades. At that point, it is simply a matter of selecting the preferred time window.
As mentioned, the initial lesson timeframe is 15 minutes and the reason for this is twofold. First, shorter lessons obviously allow them to be more affordable and that overcomes one of the previously mentioned deterrents that most people have. Second, it creates easier scheduling into busy lives by needing just a minimum of 15 minutes opposed to one or two hours. Although 15 minutes may seem incredibly short to some, MobiCoach believes that in an hour lesson the instruction is typically the initial portion of the time and the rest is spent trying to ingrain those changes. This allows for the instruction time and the user working on their own afterwards to ingrain those changes from the lesson. However, it needs to be made clear that golfers CAN select bigger time windows than 15 minutes. It will obviously increase the price, but is still very affordable thanks to the remote platform.
Once a lesson has been scheduled, the App will remind the user with appointment alerts as the time gets closer, and when it hits the scheduled time it will allow him/her to tap and connect with the coach. This puts the golfer into FULL communication with the coach, as they will have access to the screen to give you visual feedback after swings are recorded. They can talk to you throughout the lesson (and user to them), and also the coach can take video of what he is trying to get across and send it to your device for you to see immediately. After connecting, all that needs to be done is to set up the forward facing camera so that the swing will be fully captured in the frame. Then the coach notifies that they are ready to record and the iOS device gives a countdown on the screen followed by a tone to signify when the swing should begin.
Unless the user is connected to Wi-Fi, it will use cellular data. However, the video clips and transmission are limited to 8 seconds, which limits the amount of data being sent to very minor amounts. An additional thing worth mentioning here is that the golfer can take the lesson anywhere so long as they can record the swing. It doesn’t have to be at the range – it can be in a garage, house, or wherever. It is an easy setup that anyone who can use the smartphone will have no problem navigating.
Companies can make something as innovative, easy, and streamlined as possible, but if it doesn’t provide adequate feedback, particularly when dealing with something like golf instruction, then it really won’t matter. As far as the MobiCoach system is concerned, it not only works, but works seamlessly with the potential for not only immediate, but also long term feedback for golfers to improve their game.
The remote setup of MobiCoach works by connecting the user directly to the instructor who is on their iPad. Thanks to the Real-Time Display they actually sync with the iOS device being used by the student and have control to dictate what the student sees on the screen. They control when the video is taken and also have the ability to mark up the video live as the student is watching and listening to the coach. The coach can even put up side-by-side videos to show the differences. Another nice aspect is that the teacher can take a video of himself, send it to the students screen, and break it down with them in order to help further show what they are trying to get accomplished in the lesson.
The ability to have a coach who was in California while with a student was in Oklahoma was staggering to think of considering how fluidly it all worked. The markups happening live on your screen as you are talking with the coach is something that could be an absolute game changer for many. Additionally, all videos and markups are available to the student anytime through the app in case a refresher on what they are supposed to be working on is needed after the lesson is over. The capabilities here will surely only improve as the technology (devices) improve. The video quality from the front facing camera on the iPhone 5 used was clear enough to see all aspects of the swing and the club throughout. It might not be HD, but again as the tech improves, so too will the app. Mobiplex was adamant that they will continue to develop and evolve the MobiCoach program (with some big updates very soon).
The main concern coming into this review was just how well the connectivity would be. Clearly, if you are in an area with no Wi-Fi and no signal at all then one will not be able to utilize it. But, if you have a good signal then there should be no issues. As mentioned previously, this lesson was from Oklahoma connecting to California and it was all done real time over an LTE signal. At no point in the 30+ minutes were there any disconnects or hiccups in the communications or video. The most impressive thing of it all was the lack of issues. It appears everything was designed well and has been thoroughly tested.
Sometimes things come along that really change the way things are done and MobiCoach could very well be one of those. The ability for more golfers to have affordable access to teaching professionals around the globe is a lofty goal, but Mobiplex has delivered on that via only an app and the Smartphones that most people have by their side all of the time anyways. It’s easy to navigate, it’s easy to understand, and it’s easy to utilize – all musts when it comes to making technology work for the user. Although it is currently only for iOS users, they are expanding that to Android very soon and plan on continuing to evolve the program as the technology improves. Due to the understanding that this is something completely different and some might be hesitant to try it, golfers can sign up on their website for a free 15 minute trial lesson.
The only thing required to utilize MobiCoach is the free app and an account on www.MobiCoach.com in order to schedule the lesson. Lessons range from $19.00 to $75.00 depending on the instructor selected.