The conversation comes up in every bar and every living room each weekend throughout the fall. The chain gang stops a game down to perform their decidedly unscientific measurement of a football's precise location, and the friend or stranger next to you asks, "Why don't they just put a sensor in the football?"
Now, they have.
To be clear, Wilson's X Connected Football can't measure its spot on the field, but it does offer a number of practical coaching applications that lead you to believe adding a GPS sensor couldn't be far behind. What the ball does do, though, is measure a football's velocity, distance and its efficiency -- essentially, the tightness of the spiral. Each throw reports back its data to its companion app.
(Photo credits: Wilson)
"The sensor is in the very middle of the ball, suspended four ways, kind of like a spider web," Wilson Labs vice president Bob Thurman told Wired. "You can kick it, you can punt it, you can punch the hell out of it, and the sensor won’t budge."
The ball is powered by a battery that the company says should last 200,000 throws. After that, the smart football simply becomes a football.
Wilson is marketing the ball to consumers (retail: $200 a pop), but the coaching applications are obvious. The X Connected Football is scheduled to hit shelves Sept. 8.