Smart Ball: The 94Fifty Basketball Gives Players Data on Their Game
You know what it’s like: You come down the court, pull up just outside the stripe and launch a shot—and it just feels right. Well, now there’s a ball that can tell you, in real time, just how right that shot you put up truly is. You know, did it have a 46-degree arc, with backspin between 130 and 150 RPM?
InfoMotion Sports Technologies’ new 94Fifty basketball—so named in honor of a standard court’s 94-foot-by-50-foot dimensions—is a regulation-size-and-weight ball equipped with nine internal sensors that measure everything from shot release speed, arc and backspin to dribble force and angle and then disseminate that info back to the player, or to a coach, in a 10th of a second using built-in Bluetooth.
You’ll still have to keep track on your own of whether the ball actually went through the hoop—although a built-in magnetometer can detect when the ball nears the rim—but the whole intent of the 94Fifty is to increase the odds that it will. The iOS and Android app features more than 50 drills and skill tests designed to improve a player’s game, based on what the ball can track. Work on your shot-release speed—give yourself a pat on the back if you can get that figure down to 0.7 seconds—or switch modes and focus on crossover power while giving your shooting wrist a break. Throughout, the app helps athletes more rapidly develop muscle-memory by measuring what the human eye can’t see. It also gives tips for correcting errant movements.
At $300 ($250 on a current March Madness special), the 94Fifty is not exactly regulation priced, but the company says the ball’s point-of-force technology is made to withstand half a million hard bounces. The ball, charged on a wireless pad, has an eight-hour battery life.
Of course, it may take you longer than that to groove in that 46-degree arc.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.