Fitness trackers and connected gadgets for sports such as golf, cycling and tennis are a dime a dozen these days. Basketball has been slow in joining the party, but this has started to change. Today there is a small but growing group of products that are leveraging the powers of technology to help you improve your skills on the basketball court.
At the moment, the NBA does not allow the use of wearable technology during official games. This is in contrast to the MLB which has, in 2016, approved two devices for use during games.
Nevertheless, when training, professional basketball teams are using hi-tech body-monitoring devices to track workloads and movement in the name of injury prevention. A few weeks ago, the NBA and NBA Players Association announced they had reached consensus on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement which, reportedly, will create a path forward for wearable technology.
Luckily, you don’t need to wait for the NBA to jump onto the wearables bandwagon. Read on for our overview of connected basketball tech you can use today.
You would not realise there is anything different about this basketball just by looking at it. It is regulation size and weight with Wilson quality grip and durability. There are two sizes to choose from: official (29.5 inches) or intermediate (28.5 inches). There are no wires, add-ons to attach to the hoop or wearables to strap on your wrist.
Below the surface the ball contains a Bluetooth radio, low-power processor, and three-axis accelerometer, which with the help of some cleverly crafted algorithms track your baskets. Wilson says its algorithms are 98% accurate on makes and misses.
Although you can use it in a game, the ball is primarily designed to track a single player’s shots. After all, no matter how clever, the basketball can’t tell when it has changed possession. This is why Wilson recommends to use the ball and app during solo training.
After your session, open up the accompanying smartphone app for charts and graphs on your shooting statistics. This includes everything from shooting percentages and shot attempts to total time in play.
And don’t worry about re-charging. The battery runs strong for over 100,000 shots – that’s 300 shots a day, every day for a year. After that you can continue on using it as a regular ball, or perhaps trade it in.
The other connected basketball comes from an outfit called Infomotion Sports Technologies. 94fifity is the official Smart Basketball of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
This regulation size, weight, spin and bounce basketball comes with a Qi wireless charger, and the mobile apps (iOS and Android) are free. It also includes a custom-made bag to carry the ball in.
Inside the ball are nine accelerometers and a gyroscope, sitting on a circuit board that weighs less than 20 grams. The sensors can detect force (a 360-degree view of it) and speed, ball rotation and ball arc.
The ball runs a lightweight operating system that dissects patterns in motion and can communicate anomalies in less than 100 milliseconds over Bluetooth. You will get instant feedback on every shot and dribble.
94fifty tracks four important metrics: dribble force/speed, shot speed, shot backspin and shot arc. You can choose to work on various skills, or compete head to head against other players through up to 34 different challenges.
You will need to recharge this basketball. But once you do, it will be good for 8 hours before needing a top-up.
Basketball Replay Analyzer by Blast Motion is a tiny tracker that you clip to your waistband. The device goes well beyond basic activity tracking, and is equipped with a highly accurate 3D motion sensors to capture performance metrics and detect key events such as acceleration, rotation, and jump height – all in real-time.
Additionally, the Smart Video Capture technology allows the Blast app to create video clips, allowing you to easily locate, replay and share your action highlights. The patented Smart Video Capture technology will automatically identify your actions and clip your video to create a series of highlights, overlaid with your metrics (vertical height, hang-time, rotation and jump acceleration).
Video is saved into your personal history as shareable clips synced with movement data. You can then detect key events and identify trends by viewing your movement history. You can also store movement data when the sensor is out of range. Everything will download to your smart phone or tablet as soon as you reconnect.
Three components make up the ShotTracker system. A wrist sensor which slides into the wristband or shooting sleeve, a sensor that attaches to the net, and the ShotTracker app. The net sensor runs on a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery and is in sleep mode until the user starts shooting.
The first link in the chain is the sensor worn by the user. It is very lightweight (9.9 grams), so you hardly notice you are wearing it. The sensor is designed so that it can fit under a purpose-made wrist band or sleeve (sold separately). As the ball leaves your hand, the wrist sensor sends an alert to the net sensor, which then records the shot.
The app automatically gathers data from both sensors and presents it in the form of real-time stats and shot charts. You will get information on every shot attempt, shot success and percentages, as well as a shot map. The app will also use the information to recommend training drills designed to help you work on your weaknesses.
This smart sleeve basically guides you to improve your shooting form and consistency. Just turn on SOLIDshot and pull it on. You can dribble, pass, and play just like you normally would.
Using multiple sensors on a player’s shooting arm, the device constantly analyzes motion, recognizes a shot, and gives instant feedback the moment the ball leaves the player’s hands. The device looks at over 50 metrics of your shot. The data is gathered from three sensors: one on a player’s bicep, another on their forearm and the third one on the hand.
Essentially, this is equivalent to a 120 fps high-speed motion capture system. Four independent computers coordinate hundreds of times per second to analyze your motion in real-time.
Instant feedback helps you build muscle memory. Audio and visual cues on the sleeve let you know exactly what you need to work on. For more detailed insight into your shooting technique, head over to the accompanying app.
VERT is an innovative new device addressing a rather unique niche market.
The wearable tracks and shares real-time stats on your jumps. This includes vertical height, average height, highest vertical and total jumps during a game. You can use this little gadget for any sport that involves jumping such as basketball, volleyball, hurdle jumping, and martial arts. Or you could use it to monitor jump rope exercises and warm ups or to compete amongst your friends.
The wearable is strapped around your waist or chest, similar to a heart-rate monitor. You can attach is either via the VERTclip or integrate it within an article of clothing.
The information is stored and can be accessed through a smartphone app or web dashboard. Also, at any point in practice or during the game, you can hold down a button on the side of the device and it will provide you with statistics on your jumps up to that point.
VERT is also making final preparations to launch G-VERT- a wearable that tracks and shares real-time stats including G-force, kinetic energy, jump analytics, power, stress % and appendage asymmetry. The device is due to be unveiled on January 3rd at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
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