Sporting Goods Will Have You Bouncing On The IoT

Just shy of a year ago, sports equipment maker Wilson Sporting Goods Co. introduced the Wilson X Connected Basketball and app. The premise was to help players improve their hoop shooting by stressing two practice strategies: constant repetition and high-pressure, live-game experiences.

Described as a smart basketball, X employs a small, embedded sensor that wirelessly connects to an app on the player's smartphone. Wilson’s proprietary Make/Miss Technology tracks the ball and knows when the ball goes through the hoop or not. It also tracks every shot so players can see if their shooting performance improves over time. You can see a video of the ball and app in action if you CLICK HERE.

The app provides four modes focusing on shooting drills and game-type experiences, like Buzzer Beater, that challenge a player under end-game countdown pressure while the sensor sends data to a smart phone or tablet. Players can track their shooting and performance stats, i.e., shots taken, shots made, two-pointers, three- pointers, free throws, etc., and share them via social media, or email.  When a player hits high points, he or she can “unlock special badges”, for whatever that means.

Now just shy of a year later, Wilson is getting ready to hit the gridiron with what it is calling the world's first smart football. Due to become available nationwide on September 8, 2016, the Wilson X Connected Football promises to turn football fans into their favorite team’s start playmaker while turning any piece of turf into a virtual national football league gridiron. Lofty claims to say the least.

Similar to the X basketball, the Wilson X Connected Football employs an embedded sensor and connects to, you guessed it, an app on the user’s smartphone or tablet. According the company, “every fan can become their favorite NFL team's quarterback and create their own virtual stadium anywhere, anytime they want to play.”

The premise of the football is essentially the same as the basketball, that is, to improve player performance by tracking throw distance, velocity, spiral efficiency, and spin rate. It also detects if the football was caught or dropped. Players also receive their very own quarterback ranking score.  You can catch a video of the football in action if you CLICK HERE.

At the end of each game or session, players have access to game and performance analytics. Via data, players can see how they rank against other users around the globe or amongst their friends, share stats via social media, unlock trophies, and challenge others to face-offs.

Over all, these are pretty viable tools for not only improving aspiring players’ skills, but perhaps for getting some people off the couch or out from behind the computer or TV screen and getting some fresh air and exercise. If your choice is basketball or football, price for either the Wilson X Connected Basketball or Football is $199.99.

As far one could see, the only potential downside may be the connected, IoT feature. There are two potential problems one may consider before broadcasting one’s sports-performance stats to the world.

First, if you believe everything IoT is hackable, you could have your football or basketball held hostage by ransomware. Not only could it cost you untold sums of money to regain control of your balls, your personal sports-performance stats could be in the hands of international fiends who could sell them for untold sums of bitcoins.

Second potential hazard is that if the user is aspiring to lofty heights, but is really pretty bad at sports, broadcasting stats could defeat a pro career quite early. However, that is probably an event most will not have to worry about. ~MD


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