enterprise 2.0, e2conf

From the 94Fifty Web site

If you’d like to get a sense of the upcoming World Wide Nervous System, InfoMotion Sports Technologies offers one glimpse. As described in the final keynote at the E2 conference in Boston, the future can be seen in a “sensor basketball.” 

The 94Fifty basketball, announced in February and coming out in October for an expected US$ 295, measures basketball skills in real time through the use of six embedded sensors that deliver data via Bluetooth to a mobile app for iOS or Android devices. The sensors, aided by high-end algorithms, measure more than 6,000 pieces of data each second and are intended to help players hone their muscle memory skills. The brand name 94Fifty comes from the dimensions of a NBA basketball court.

The Best Dunk Ever

Want to know the exact specs on your shot arc, shot speed, backspin, dribble intensity or countless other now-measurable actions that make up basketball?

On the E2 stage, InfoMotion Sports Technologies CEO Michael Crowley said that the sensors can be used to set metrics for, say, the greatest dunk ever. If you thought sports fans are number junkies now, wait until they have mathematical data on, as Crowley said, “who is the best dunker of the game, the league, the year.” There will be no room for barroom differences of opinion.

Crowley, whose company was partially funded by an appeal on crowdsourcing site KickStarter.com, was asked about other sports, such as the data lover’s favorite, baseball. He replied that, at least for the moment, his company is only focused on basketball and soccer, because they are the ones with fans numbering in the hundreds of millions -- soccer, because of its status as the world’s most popular sport, and basketball, because of China’s passion.

He also noted that such exact sensoring of how well physical objects can repeatedly move as intended has applications outside of sports, such as in training surgeons to expertly wield their instruments or musicians to perfectly carry a bow.

Stadium Screens

This tech takes the long-forecast Internet of Things to a whole new level. Instead of simply having your car let you know where you parked it or your refrigerator post when you’re out of milk, sensored objects will now be able to take on a precision bordering on intelligence. Exercise machines, high-end sneakers, wrist bands for swimming or head bands for judging dancing contests are some of the possibilities once things can be endowed with precise goals of perfection that go beyond previous data reporting from objects.

Crowley indicated that his company is also working with unnamed video game makers to embody digital versions of real players with their actual, measurable movements, since “we can now take the actual data of how that player plays.”

Prior to Crowley, an E2 keynote panel included three people who spend all day thinking about sports tech -- Boston Celtics VP of Technology Jay Wessel, San Francisco Giants CIO Bill Schlough and Boston Red Sox Director of IT Steve Conley. They described the accelerating use of technology by their franchises, including the advantages of electronic tickets, the possibilities of social media for an industry that defines the word “fan” and the need to access on the road tens of terabytes of game video.

But those are only peripheral technology. One can imagine, in the not-too-distant future, stadiums showing in real time on the stadium screen, player and ball data that go far beyond just clocking the speed of a pitch, such as overlays of a given ball’s exact arc on top of the perfect version. It could make a stats junkie’s heart soar, but one can already hear the barroom battles about whether it was better in the days before we knew the six-point data profile of LeBron James’ hook shot.