Robert Gold, a pharmacist from Evansville, Indiana, was looking to create a basketball that provides information to prospective players about the nature of their shooting.
Incorporating an NXP sensor, RF module and MCU into a custom Spalding basketball that could capture and transmit necessary data.
The basketball can help players improve their shots by providing feedback information on the velocity and angle of their shooting.
was excited to work with NXP on this project. We designed the
intelligent basketball using Our components to track the
trajectory of the basketball, and NXP successfully demonstrated
the technology at its 2007 NXP FTF Tech Forum."
Michael Maziarz, Spalding Engineer
NXP Semiconductors worked with Robert Gold, with a professor and
students at the University of Southern Indiana and with sporting goods
manufacturer, Spalding, to showcase a prototype of the world's first
“intelligent basketball.” The project was launched in 2006 by Mr. Gold,
who contacted NXP with the idea and a request to obtain necessary
electronic components. As the project evolved, NXP engineers
continued to work with Mr. Gold, the professor and students at the
university and with Spalding engineers to incorporate the technology in
a production-grade basketball.
There are two factors that determine the probability of making a free throw: the
player's height, and the player's control over the ball's release angle
and velocity. A basketball was needed that could provide information to
prospective players about the nature of their shooting—specifically,
the velocity and angle of each shot. Once the ball leaves the player's
hand, a sensor is needed to track the acceleration and then an MCU is
needed to make calculations of velocity. Software programming would
need to be utilized to extract the acceleration due to motion and
integrate the values to approximate velocity. The data would also have
to be transferred without wires to a nearby computer to display the
It was determined that a basketball could achieve these requirements by incorporating
three NXP components: a three-axis accelerometer, a ZigBee
transceiver and an eight-bit microcontroller. With the use of these
three components, the basketball can help a player improve their shot
by providing feedback information on the velocity and angle of their
shooting. By understanding how an accelerometer is oriented inside the
basketball, engineers could determine the initial release angle. Once
the ball leaves the player's hand, its accelerometer tracks the
acceleration and then uses a microcontroller to integrate the area
under the acceleration curve. It calculates velocity and then employs a
transceiver to send the info to a laptop computer.
NXP sent Spalding a ZSTAR module, which incorporates an MMA7260QT triple-axis
accelerometer controlled by an 8-bit MCU (MC9S08QG8) and is connected
via a wireless link to a computer through USB 2.0. Spalding began
designing the necessary features for a basketball that could hold the
small dimensions of a ZSTAR module. Utilizing its knowledge in putting
devices inside sports ball based on experience with its INFUSION line
of micropump-outfitted balls, Spalding designed and produced a
prototype ball that will effectively hold the Z-Star and delivered a
basketball in June 2007. NXP then calibrated the ball based on
the location of the ZSTAR board within the ball volume. NXP
successfully demonstrated the technology at the NXP Technology
Forum in Orlando in June 2007.