All Design Lab asked an artificial intelligence (AI) systerm to recreate the classic tennis racket and the outcome, named Hìtëkw, is a futuristic-looking racket with a twisted neck.
A tennis racket typically has a head (also called the face, which generally hits the tennis ball), a shaft (the Y-shaped part also called the throat, which connects to the face), and a handle (also called the butt…). Throw AI into the mix and you end up with something rather unique looking.
All Design Lab combined DALL.E and MidJourney AIs with 3D printing to design its Hìtëkw concept ahead of the 2022 US Open.
“These programs search the web and create a composite image of whatever prompt you give them. With our initial idea in hand, we gave the AI multiple prompts. Each spitting out new visions of tennis rackets,” says All Design Lab.
The outcome was a lighter, stronger racket that could potentially change the game of tennis.
The original tennis racket was made out of wood. As the game advanced, so did the racket. It evolved from wood to steel, then aluminium alloys until it eventually got to its modern carbon and granite design.
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All Design Lab says the AI produced new design ideas but nothing unique.
“What we learned from this was that while these programs are extremely powerful, they are only as powerful as the source material they have to sample. And with tennis rackets, the form doesn’t really change all that much from its inception,” says All Design Lab.
For the culture
The name Hìtëkw pays tribute to the US Open tournament and takes Native American language, culture, and history into consideration. This year’s tournament takes place in New York City, and the racket’s name is in honour of the City’s native Lenape people.
“Hìtëkw is named after the Lenape people’s word for “tree,” which we found welcoming given the design’s resemblance to the roots and branches of a tree,” says All Design Lab.
All Design Lab says it hopes Hìtëkw will spark new ideas for tennis racket designers and the future of the sport.
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