How Does a Smart Basketball Work? 94Fifty Aims to Improve Your Game

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These days, it seems like every inanimate object is now “smart.” There are smart TVs, smart cars, smart coffee makers, smart baby monitors, and now for the sports lover, there’s a smart basketball.

The 94Fifty smart basketball from InfoMotion Sports is equipped with a set of sensors inside the ball that interact with an app and essentially teaches users skills to become a better player.

Whether you’re a street baller or working towards a Division 1 college scholarship, just about any player could benefit from the muscle memory skills the ball teaches.

 “We define (our target audience) more psycographically than we do by age,” said InfoMotion Sports CEO Mike Crowley. “That sweet spot for us are those that either want to make the A team next year or want to make a better AAU team…they aspire for something.”

How it Works

\"94FiftyThe ball has six sensors built into it that look for patterns of motion through the ball.  The sensors send that data to the processor, which reads and analyzes the information and sends it via Bluetooth to an included app downloaded onto the player’s smartphone. The processor also works extremely fast, transmitting data from the ball to the smartphone app in 100 milliseconds.

“It means whatever bounce you put on the ground, no matter how fast you dribble, it will count them,” Crowley said.

What it Does

While the technology behind the ball is certainly interesting, it’s what the ball can actually do to help a user learn to be a better baller that peaks the most interest.

\"94FiftyThe product focuses on two main skill sets; ball-handling and shooting. Within each skill set are various aspects the ball will help a user work on, such as force or speed of dribble and arc, speed and backspin of a shot. The focus of the app is on muscle memory, rather than athleticism, so it works based on repetition of a particular movement involved in a skill.

The main feature of the app is skill testing and improvement. Within the app are a set of various drills and workouts users can do. When a player completes a workout or drill the results from that practice session are immediately available in the app, providing instant feedback and results. Also added into the app is gamification and leveling, giving users a goal to work towards.

“We’re always trying to make it fun and engaging,” Crowley said. “It can’t just be numbers.”


Other features of the app include two different competition modes that allow users to compete both against friends in the gym and other users across the globe.

The head-to-head competition mode allows up to five players to compete on the app. Users can choose which skill they would like to compete on and then elect which method of scoring they’d like to use. After each player has completed the skill, the app ranks the players and will create a scoreboard with standings that are updated as the users participate in more competitions.

“Obviously competition is something that most kids love and we’ve found that it is by far probably the most popular thing,” Crowley said. “They’re out there going as hard as they can and they’re working on these drills and they’re trying to win, but on the side what we’re doing is building the muscle memory skills.”

\"94FiftyUsers who want to further expand their competition options can participate in the Pro Competition feature. The pro feature allows users to participate in a skill and then send the results out to the masses via Twitter, challenging others to beat their score. Anyone who has a 94Fifty smart basketball and sees the tweet can then respond to the challenge.

“We talk about shrinking the world of basketball into a digital space where you can literally go to this playground and with anybody, anywhere it can be game on,” Crowley said.

The company is also working on a premium app that will literally allow users to compete against any other user with a ball – despite their social network activity – anywhere in the world. The premium version of the app will not be included with the ball, but every user will get a 60-day free trial of the service.

Pricing and Availability

The 94Fifty smart basketball will begin shipping in the fall and will be priced at $295, which includes the ball, the app and a wireless charging pad. Users may also preorder the package via 94Fifty’s Kickstarter campaign at a reduced cost of $195 through April 8

The app is compatible with Android 4.0.4 or later and iOS 5 or later.



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