Thursday, September 24, 2015

Augmented equipment

The 94Fifty ball has been dismissed in some press as a trivial geek toy, but I think it might actually have some utility for young players trying to improve their game. The broader goal of augmenting sports to improve practice and training is something Jono Hey and I explored in our work on ping pong training.

Still, when it comes to adding sensors to sports equipment, I am more interested in improving either the game itself or fans enjoyment of the game. For example, video review during games is something that makes sense rationally but tends to slow things down and interrupt the flow of games. It would be better if the equipment itself was smart enough to detect automatically calls that currently go to review. Instrumented basketballs should be able to detect precisely when they were last touched, and with the addition of player-worn galvanic transponders, we should be able to detect right away who was the last person to touch the ball. This would eliminate all possession reviews as well as some goaltending reviews. The rest of the goaltending reviews could be cleaned up with an arc detector in the ball. Foot-behind-the-line detection (for 3 pointers and less regularly for free throws) should also be straightforward either with cameras or sensors embedded in shoes when there are visual obstructions.

Joey Crawford has his moments. But come on, nobody goes to games to see the refs. More ball less stall.

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