A new regulation-sized, normal-looking basketball that can transmit 6,000 bits of data per second is being billed as the world's first smart basketball, meant to turn even a simple layup into a pile of information.
The 94Fifty ball, named for the dimensions of a basketball court, and its data-retrieval system will go on sale online in April for $295. It supposedly feels like a regular ball even as it conducts its on-court surveillance. The ball needs to be recharged but can be done so wirelessly.
Founder and CEO Michael Crowley of Dublin, Ohio-based InfoMotion Sports Technologies says the six sensors embedded in the ball's exterior can transmit data within 100 milliseconds to Android smart devices up to 90 feet away. The system includes an app that offers suggestions on how to improve your form.
The target consumers, Crowley says, are 12- to 20-year-olds. "They're so tech-savvy," he says. "And they demand instant feedback."
The idea is that by, say, collecting data on dribble force, you can see how much weaker a player is with one hand as opposed to the other.
Crowley also hopes to get the ball in retail stores and says he's talking to leagues about using it in games so coaches could use the data to improve play or sportscasters could create more stats for their audience.
Crowley says his 10-person company, founded in 2008, has tested versions of the product, costing $2,500-$5,000, with teams in Italy and the Netherlands. Those versions, he says, have more "pattern-reaction algorithms," are more suited for monitoring groups of players and offer videos showing drills meant to correct specific problems.
Spice rack: Krossover, a New York City-based start-up, has a gaming app that lets you freeze real basketball video action and then lets you guess how the play ends. The app could be used simply for recreation
. But it's being tested by the Cleveland Cavaliers to analyze their play as well as evaluate opponents. Cavaliers analytics head Ben Alamar says the app has the added benefits of forcing players to watch film. The app, like the InfoMotion Sports Technologies basketball, will be demonstrated at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston today and Saturday. Actor-pitchman William Shatner will appear as a home-plate umpire in Boston's Fenway Park
in a music video for singer Brian Evans' upcoming The Croonerman CD. Here's how Evans explains that casting: "Every Boston Red Sox fan we approached said that William Shatner as the umpire was iconic as the ballpark itself," Evans said of the former Boston Legal star.