One of the hottest new basketball innovations is the Smart Sensor Basketball produced by InfoMotion Sports Technology. Derived from a kickstarter campaign, the Smart Sensor Basketball works with a smartphone app and an accompanying SmartNet to provide digital coaching for serious basketballers. It currently retails for right around $180 on the 94Fifty website, plus an additional $19.99 for the SmartNet; the app is free.
The ball itself is designed to improve your shot by giving you real-time feedback on the arc of your shot, rotation speed and release time. It also measures dribble speed and intensity to improve ball handling skills. It may make recommendations based on feedback to dribble with more power and to get more dribbles in a timed interval of 20, 40 or 60 seconds.
Made for indoor or outdoor use, the smart basketball has been tested for up to 1 million bounces and an advertised eight hours of continuous battery life. It is equipped with nine accelerometers–electromechanical devices that detect acceleration–fitted on a circuit board weighing less than 0.7 ounces. A wireless charging pad uses electromagnetic induction technology to charge the ball just like it would a cell phone.
It is not as simple as getting the basketball, downloading the accompanying app and firing away. When setting up your shooting session, you enter the approximate distance you will be shooting from and the height of the shooter. The app is paired with the basketball by turning the app on and dribbling the basketball a couple of times. Then, as you move around the basket and shoot (ensuring you remain the same distance from the rim), you get accurate feedback whether you are in the corner or at the top of the key.
The smartphone app is available for iOS and Android, but the company admits it works better on iOS, due to quirks with Android’s Bluetooth capability. The app itself provides feedback visually and audibly within milliseconds after taking a shot. The exact arc of a shot is provided as well as an ideal range, said to be derived from watching thousands of shooters, some considered among the best in the world.
The app will not only provide raw numbers but also instruction, such as “bend your knees” or “flick your wrist” in an effort to “coach” the arc of your shot. Similar feedback is given for the release time and rotational speed of the ball as the ball flies through the air. You will see what you did, receive coaching and get feedback on the ideal range.
The next phase for is to incorporate the SmartNet with your basketball and app. While not much is available about the exact technology that allows the SmartNet to interact with the ball and app the functionality it will be providing is simple – was it a make or a miss? Also on the horizon is the ability to have well-renowned coaches’ voices to provide instruction. Could you imagine Phil Jackson or Dean Smith telling you to tuck your elbow? Or how about Bobby Knight barking at you about not bending your knees?
The smart basketball is just another product coming into its own in 2015 that is re-categorizing the word “personal” in personal trainer. (See last First and Tech column for my take on the possible beginning of the end of personal training as we know it.) Could this tech be used in footballs next, maybe a baseball hitting stand or even a soccer ball?
The possibilities seem endless and your next personal trainer might just need an IT degree.