IoT Has Warmed Up & Is Ready to Play

By Enrique Pavlioglou & Consuelo Azuaje

This is no time for old Luddites. A quick tour of CES 2016, at least, seemed to suggest as much.  As Technology and Progress march unstoppably on into a future that makes being tech savvy a must, IoT is cropping up everywhere. Industry leaders have been taking heed in recent years and started exploring M2M-based solutions to consumer demands. The Wilson Sporting Goods empire is no exception. 

With 167 million viewers, Super Bowl 50 became the most-watched program in TV history and doubtless will be one for the books.  Now that it has come to a close and headlines have crowned the Denver Broncos champions of the Big Game, the players can finally rest after their long journey and tough-fought season—but only for a short while. Spring and summer camps are just around the corner and teams are looking for new ways to get an edge on next season's competition. IoT might just have what teams are looking for.  Recently showcased at CES 2016 in January, the Wilson X Connected Football might just be one of the answers coaches have been searching for. 

The Wilson X Connected Football looks and feels like an ordinary football.  In fact, if it weren't for the phrase “Connected Football” and a silver and black “X” printed across the front of it, you wouldn't know that you were handling a product of IoT's eating the world.  Equipped with a suite of sensors (including a Bluetooth connectivity sensor), to track the ball's spin, velocity, distance, wobble, whether or not it is caughtor dropped, the X Connected Football could be used to spot new talent, to elevate game analytics to a new level, or even just to lure kids away from sedentary activities (e.g. video games) into more active ones like football. 

To access sensor data and stats, users would need to look no further than their smart phones where an app is synced with data collected by the X Connected's sensors.  More than merely report sensor data and stats, the app also features games to build up the athletic ability, and a social networking component, which will keep coaches, friends and family up to date on the players' progress. 

Although, the price of the X Connected Football hasn't officially been announced, it is rumored to be in the two-hundred-dollar-range, similar to Wilson's X-Connected Basketball. The price seems a little high, especially when the X Connected's built-in obsolescence is factored in. 

The X Connected Football's batteries are neither removable nor rechargeable, so it would stay connected only as long as its batteries could last, which is approximately two years. To those that wanted to stay X Connected after the two-year mark, the only option would be to shell out another couple hundred for a new X Connected ball. (To be fair, Wison took some design measures to lengthen battery life—the X Connected's sensors, for instance, are only ever “on” after the ball has been held vertically above ground for two seconds.) 

The X Connected Football was developed for professionals and enthusiasts, however, so to each the X Connected Football might seem like more of an investment than would an ordinary ball.  When pro-athletes rake millions in for the NFL through endorsements, ticket sales, and merchandise, how much could a couple hundred every two years to really hurt a team budget? 

How much will the investment will pay off?  Only time will tell. Until then, fans are left to sighing and peering hopefully into a future where we see the X Connected helping scouts find unlikely talent and helping coaches develop future generations of greats, the likes of Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, and Tom Brady—an exciting possibility, indeed.