Intelligent Basketball Tracks Trajectory


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.

"Spalding 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

Case Study

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.

The Challenge

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 results.

The Solution

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.


Robert Gold, R.Ph., MBA


Newburgh, IN

Lynn Luczkowski

Spalding Public Relations


West Hartford, CT

Lisa Bradley

Sensor Marketing Communications


Tempe, AZ