It’s called “madness” for a reason — the college basketball frenzy in March is enough to convince many that if they only had a better handle on the ball, or a higher arc, they, too could have made it to the Final Four.
Now there’s a basketball for that.
An Ohio-based company called InfoMotion has created a high-tech, Bluetooth-equipped basketball that senses the player’s motions with the ball and, after analyzing the data, shares it wirelessly to a compatible iOS or Android smartphone app.
InfoMotion has kicked off a Kickstarter campaign today to raise money for the production of the ball.
Mike Crowley, InfoMotion’s CEO, says the app doesn’t just spit out data; it’s supposed to offer advanced diagnostics to help players improve their games. “Five years ago, when we started the company, we knew consumers needed data. But the next evolution, beyond just activity tracking, is, how do I get better?”
The sensors in the ball can measure the direction of the ball’s spin and how quick your release is after catching the ball. In terms of ball handling, the Bluetooth ball knows the efficiency of your left hand versus your right hand, and how hard you dribble with each — in a sense, how confident you are with the ball.
Using this data, the app will recognize patterns and offer suggestions to shoot with a higher arc, or use your legs, or change the trajectory of the ball.
While the ball can sense when it has hit backboard, rim or net, InfoMotion’s “hit-or-miss” technology is still in development, so right now the app won’t tell you how many shots you’ve made — only how many you’ve taken.
The app also has a multiplayer mode, in which you and up to three other friends can take turns shooting 10 shots at a time and compete. InfoMotion’s goal is to create a kind of virtual playground, in which ballplayers around the world can compare scores within the app.
The sensor-laden basketball is made of indoor/outdoor synthetic leather, courtesy of Spalding. Despite the fact that the ball comes packed with an eight-hour battery, Crowley says it meets regulation weight and size. It’s Qi-compatible, so it can be charged wirelessly, and comes with a charging sleeve.
If you can already feel the synthetic leather pimples under your fingertips, here’s the part where you might get a little, um, deflated: InfoMotion doesn’t expect the ball to ship until the third quarter of this year. And it will retail for a whopping $295. That almost makes these basketball sneakers look reasonable (not really).
To be fair, this new offering is much cheaper than InfoMotion’s first high-tech basketball, which launched in 2011 and ranged in price from $2,500 to $5,000. That ball was aimed mainly at high-level coaches and players.
But $295 is still a lot for a synthetic-leather basketball. Here’s a little free advice, kids: High-tech or not, just get out there and shoot — a lot!