Ball machine on tennis court

Proton – The game changing ball machine

RACKET SPORTS TECH. The US-based startup Hydrogen Sports has spent the last 4 years developing a modern, lightweight and smart ball machine called Proton. The goal is to start delivering the finished product this summer. At MATCHi, we think this could be a potential must-have in the future for both tennis and padel enthusiasts. We reached out to Hydrogen Sports to hear more about how it all started.

A new era of ball machines

About half the size of a typical tennis ball machine and with smart controls, the Proton could be on its way to revolutionize the ball machine market. Founded back in 2016 by former Apple developer Jonah Harley, Hydrogen Sports is on a mission to improve the experience and portability of the ball machine.

“I bought a standard ball machine after I left my Apple job almost 5 years ago. I quickly grew frustrated at how hard it was to get in and out of my car for charging every night, and also by the limited functionality.  Once I started looking at the problem I realized these machines basically hadn’t been touched in 30 years, and there was a lot of new technology that could be used to make them smaller, lighter and smarter. Lithium-ion batteries, components for 3D printers, motors from the drone industry, and of course the smart phone were all perfect for this task and hadn’t been properly used”, Jonah told us when we got in touch with him.

According to Jonah, smart tennis training is on the rise and we should expect to see more innovations like this:

“Once I had a good prototype working, I was surprised to see how accurately I could model the ball flight based on speed, spin and angle, which allowed the development of really simple and powerful user interface. I think this is just the first step in smart tennis training, and there is lots more innovation to come.”

Customize your workout with the push of a button

Through the accompanying smartphone app, players and coaches can choose to specify the spin, speed, location and timing of shots. In other words, the machine makes versatile practice sessions possible in a whole new and much more digitalized way.

Despite its’ small size, the Proton has a ball capacity of 100 balls and can shoot balls at a pace of over 112 km/h. It will sell for $1595 and the first batch is estimated to be delivered this summer. Unfortunately, for the initial launch the app is only available for iOS and it’s only available for shipping within the US. However, they’re working on an app that will support Android later on and shipping outside of the States will most likely be possible in the future.

Needless to say, we extremely interested in seeing how this product will be received in the market. And who knows, maybe we’ll end up buying one ourselves!


Want to know more? Have a look at their website here.