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Smarter than the average basketball

We’re in Syracuse. This time of year, this means that we’re really, really, really focused on basketball. I’m writing this a bit before March Madness kicks off, but I’m pretty sure that The Orange are still in it at this point. Maybe this is even our year, though the way they have been playing lately, that seems unlikely.

As a basketball fan, and an embedded systems engineer, I was doubly interested to read that the world’s smartest basketball is going to be available to consumers.

What’s so smart about the world’s smartest basketball?

The 94Fifty Sensor Basketball, which many Division I college teams use a version of, looks like any other regulation-sized ball. That’s to say all of its tech is hidden inside, so don’t expect to spot any of its sensors, which capture 6,000 points of data per second, embedded in the exterior.

Those sensors capture loads of data, including dribble force, backspin, shot arc, shoot speed and consistency, and how long the ball has been in one hand while dribbling. The ball transmits all the info to an app on a smartphone, providing the coach with instant metrics.  (Source:  Article by Katie Lindendoll on ESPN)

Naturally, I wanted to know what’s on the inside, processing those 6,000 points of data per second.

The nitty gritty: the brain (or core) of the basketball uses a TI-developed, low-power, high-performance digital signal processor (DSP) calculation engine. It’s an engine that collects and processes the raw data from nine inertial sensors. TI’s dual-mode Bluetooth/Bluetooth low-energy connectivity wirelessly transmits the data from the basketball to smartphones and tablets.

TI also developed a Qi-compliant antenna, which partners with InfoMotion-developed multi-layer flexible circuit boards. This means that the ball can be wirelessly charged without plugs or  And all of this tech is integrated into the ball. (Source: TI Blog Around TI)

I’m presuming the developer used a TI C5x DSP, TI’s lowest power family of DSP’s – we haven’t yet had the opportunity to use one, but look forward to it In our next very low power design.  It would be interesting to know what sensors are used – clearly an accelerometer, but what else? And, how do they determine how long the ball has been in one hand? Good to know that DSP – and a TI DSP, no less, which is what we use in many of our boards –  is alive and well, and living in smart basketballs.

Meanwhile, what else is there to say except GO ORANGE!

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