Stay on Your Game: InfoMotion Develops Smart Basketball to Help With Training

By: Jerred Ziegler

When Mike Crowley founded InfoMotion six years ago, his vision was to improve human motion through information technology. At that time, only top universities had the ability to capture detailed athletic performance data, and even their technology was only marginally useful. Crowley wanted to find a simpler, more accurate, more accessible way to gather motion data and drive valuable insights.

Enter InfoMotion’s first consumer human movement product — the 94Fifty smart sensor basketball. Named after the dimensions of a basketball court, this special basketball is equipped with sensors that can measure the arc, speed and backspin of a player’s shot, and the speed, power and control of a player’s dribble. The basketball links with a player’s smartphone via Bluetooth, and provides audio feedback in real time so users can hear ways to alter their shooting or dribbling to improve their game.

“We decided to start with a basketball because there are a variety of different motions within that one sport that can be measured to help players,” said Matt Pasternack, senior experience and creative director at InfoMotion. “It’s like a digital coach — we wanted to build engaging technology that wouldn’t affect how a player moves when they play or train.”

The 94Fifty app, used by players to track their progress, awards players for their skill improvements, but also continuously tracks their quality of motion. InfoMotion’s technology was named one of CES’ best innovations of 2015 in software and mobile apps and was also named one of the top 25 inventions of 2014 by Time.

“We’re different from other activity trackers that just focus on the number of steps you take, the amount of calories you burned, the number of shots you took,” said Pasternack. “We’re trying to identify if a user’s full range of motion in the sport is correct.”

In 2011, InfoMotion received a $750,000 award from Ohio Third Frontier to develop their technology and commercialize 94Fifty. The company also used this funding to move its headquarters from Massachusetts to Dublin, Ohio, located just outside of Columbus.

“Columbus is an excellent city for a startup due to the amount of talent coming out of The Ohio State University every year,” said Pasternack. “That creates an excellent pool of potential employees and innovators. Columbus is also just a few hours’ drive from some of the country’s largest cities, which is a huge perk when you’re trying to attract new customers.”

InfoMotion is planning to expand its motion technology beyond basketball in the coming years with a focus on other sports, and enterprise applications for tracking and measuring human motion.

“Our technology can be used in all sorts of applications, even outside of sports and fitness,” said Pasternack. “The concept of a real time digital coach can be applied anywhere that involves repetitive human motion. Whether it’s in the medical world or manufacturing, we feel like our motion measuring technology definitely has potential in the enterprise industry.”

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