The teched-out basketball that has it all: A look inside!

Guest blog written by Mark Davisson, President of InfoMotion Sports Technologies

Earlier this year, InfoMotion Sports Technologies (IST) announced our 94Fifty sensor basketball, the first and most advanced digital sports product that measures basketball skills in real time.  The 94Fifty basketball breaks down all aspects of a user’s game, from ball-handling and shooting to athleticism. In order to accomplish all of this with just a ball, we developed cutting-edge, production-ready hardware that leverages state-of-the-art ICs from TI connected to sensors to accurately measure the ball’s movement.  Since launching in late February 2013, the 94fifty sensor basketball has surpassed our Kickstarter goal with over $130,000 pledged and has gained support from the Amateur Athletic Union and National Association of Basketball Coaches. But the tech inside the ball is what makes it so compelling -- let’s take a look at what exactly is inside. 

The Brain

The core of the 94Fifty sensor basketball is a TMS320C5515 ultra-low-power fixed-point DSP from Texas Instruments. This part was selected for its class leading small footprint and superior analytic capabilities. The TMS320C5515 was leveraged to develop a basketball that can automatically detect dribbling and shooting basketball activities in real-time. This was achieved through the integration of our proprietary, performance optimized, activity recognition algorithms with the highly efficient 16-bit DSP calculation engine. The overall system collects raw data from nine inertial sensors and processes the data for key basketball performance metrics all while maintaining an active feedback stream with a mobile device via Bluetooth. The result is a basketball which provides insightful performance based feedback nearly instantaneously to the player through their mobile device/smartphone.

The Juice 

A key product innovation of the 94Fifty sensor basketball is the ability to recharge the battery wirelessly—plugging in a basketball is not exactly practical. This innovation was made possible through TI’s Qi-compliant, wireless power supply receiver (BQ51014). The small footprint (1.9 x 3mm DSBG) and minimal off-chip components allowed us to add this functionality within the tight space constraints of the basketball. We then developed, to our knowledge, the first flexible Qi-compatible receiving antenna. By leveraging multi-layer, flexible printed circuit board technology, we were able to create a custom receiving antenna that could be matched to the proper frequency for operation with the Qi standard. The flexible coil is embedded within the layers of the basketball during manufacturing of the ball. This innovation allows the 94Fifty to bounce, spin and feel like a standard basketball all while sealing the electronics within the ball and recharging wirelessly. When ready to re-charge, the ball easily sits on a Qi-enabled charging pad, which includes the BQ500210 wireless power transmitter circuit.

The Connection

A primary design goal for the 94Fifty sensor basketball was to have it easily communicate with a vast number of mobile devices currently in the market and take advantage of new emerging wireless standards. We were able to meet this critical objective by using TI’s single-chip Bluetooth/Bluetooth low energy solution (CC2564). Being able to support Bluetooth “classic” and Bluetooth low energy connections helps the 94Fifty communicate with Android- and iOS-based smartphones and tablets. Through this connectivity the basketball can share a users’ performance with others wherever they are located, adding basketball to the Internet of Things. Additionally, TI was able to provide us with a robust software stack for their Bluetooth dual-mode solution through the support of TI’s third party StonestreetOne.

Now that you know how the basketball works, you can hit the court to perfect your skills, track your progress and compete against friends in real-time. Game on!

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Visit www.ti.com/connectmore to learn how TI is revolutionizing the Internet of Things.