Wilson Has Crafted The Most Intelligent Football Ever Made
The futuristic ball provides data feedback on each throw to help players improve their game
Within Wilson’s ‘world’s smartest football’ lies a pair of sensors suspended in a web-like fashion which offer statistics behind the distance, speed and mechanical efficiency of each throw. The aim of the Wilson X Connected Football is, like any sports technology before it, to improve performance—and the data-driven feedback provided by the ball should support quarterbacks in completing snugger, more accurate passes to their offensive teammates.
The offset accelerometers nested within the leather ball can mimic a gyroscope, and are capable of not only identifying the rate of movement, but the speed of the ball’s spin as well. As the nose of the ball circles during airtime (a metric known as nutation angle), the sensors draw out the path of the ballpoint – the tighter the circle, the better the throw. The measurement itself has been subsequently coined ‘spiral efficiency,’ and will help players correct the subtle nuances which weaken the proficiency of their form.
The ball itself is incapable of recharging, and once it’s tracked the last of its 200,000 pass capacity it’ll fail to offer new analytics. To conserve energy, the sensors stay in sleep mode for most of the time, and can only be awoken by launching a partnered app and holding the ball vertically for two seconds, then flipping it vertically and holding still for another coupe of seconds. According to Wired, the motions to activate require some practice, but the Bluetooth-actuated device works reliably thereafter.
With support for Android coming soon, the existing iOS app serves as the interface through which users can gauge metrics and insights. But beyond merely fixing your wobbly arm, the app is also jam-packed with head-to-head games, leaderboards and other goodies. For instance, a two-minute drill narrated by play-by-play man Gus Johnson sees you competing against the clock and a digitized version of the five-Mississippi pass rush. The game plays out in an augmented-reality-styled fashion, requiring you to wear a wrist-mounted iPhone holder which arrives with the purchase of the ball; players then have to await a beeping countdown clock and try to get their pass off before the pretend pocket breaks down.
All the features have been so fine-tuned that the app is even capable of detecting cheating during crunch time: the ball is smart enough to know when it’s been caught or dropped. Should the receiver fail to catch a throw, the ball will register the toss the pass as incomplete.
“When I catch the ball, I stop it from spinning,” Bob Thurman, vice president of Wilson Labs told Wired. “If I miss it, it bounces around and keeps spinning. After a catch, there’s a smooth deceleration. It’s [surprisingly] easy to pick up what a catch looks like from the data.”
The ball is available on for preorder on the Wilson homepage in official NFL and youth sizes, and is priced at $200 USD, double that of its dumber counterpart. Shipments are slated for September 8, which not coincidentally lines up with opening night for the NFL.