Wilson just dropped a new smart basketball, capable of tracking makes and misses by using a bluetooth sensor in the ball. To use the $200 product, the user just has to download the Wilson X Connected Basketball app, available on the App Store and soon for Google Play. There are no other add-ons to attach to the hoop or wearables to put on your shooting wrist. You don’t even have to keep your phone in your pocket while you shoot.
The ball comes in the standard 29.5 inches and a kid’s 28.5 inches. It doesn’t have the same design as standard basketballs do. To make room for the Wilson logo, the panels on a normal ball are interrupted on the connected ball. The app does have sound effects and audio that comes as an added bonus, but aren’t necessary to fully use the ball. The sensor adds no weight at all, and other than the different design and a small bluetooth logo, there’d be no way to tell this ball is any different than every other rock rolling around a court.
Quite the idea, right?
I brought the ball to my collegiate team’s practice. We’re a team that relies on shooting, and I’m a player that heavily relies on shooting, so this ball had the squad excited to get up some extra shots.
When we set up the app, we got to shooting right away. The app instantly registered the ball. We used the “Free Range” mode, which worked as advertised. It tracked where we shot from and how many shots we hit. After each shot, the app lit up with a response of whether we shot from three-point land or midrange. It timed how long our session was and gave us the option of sharing our results on social media.
But there are some restrictions. Users can’t shoot from closer than seven feet away. And there also has to be a net on the hoop so that results are properly recorded. The ball also has to hit the ground after each shot, so the app knows a shot was taken.
We found out pretty quickly that for as innovative as it is looking to be, the smart ball is limited. This isn’t a game ball. It’s meant for solo training. Which means that if you’re a player who’s trying to improve your mid-range and three-point shots, this app can be a worthwhile investment. Wilson says the battery in the ball can last for up to 100,000 shots, before it becomes just another pumpkin. But all those shots and results can help you improve your game.
Besides “Free Range,” there is a free throw, “Game Time” (simulate game situations through your headphones) and “Buzzer Beater” (get a countdown through your headphones) mode.
Even though it’s not a game ball and you need a net, the Connected Ball delivers on being able to actually document your jumpshooting. If you’ve got the green to throw down, this ball is for real. Wilson says updates are coming for the app soon, which means this product could get better.