Kickstarter boosts smart basketball, jewelry makers

Entrepreneurs developing a smart basketball and smart jewelry have turned to Kickstarter to help their efforts. First, InfoMotion—which describes itself as “…the world’s pioneering leader for innovating sports products that quantify and digitize muscle-memory based athletic skills…”—expects this month to launch its 94Fifty “freakishly smart basketball” and mobile app. “What gets measured, gets improved,” the company says, and measurement is what the Bluetooth-enabled, sensor-laden 94Fifty ball is all about.

The ball will analyze shot speed, shot arc, and backspin, and it can help you improve your ball-handling, power dribbling, speed dribbling, and off-hand dribbling skills. The ball comes with a wireless Qi charging pad and offers eight hours of battery life. The app works with Android and iOS operating systems. You can sign up to be notified when the product becomes available.

As I noted last fall, Krisztián Flautner, vice president of research and development at ARM, in a keynote address at the 2012 International Test Conference, predicted that the current emphasis on phones would give way to computerized fashion accessories like watches, necklaces, and rings. “I would like to see the next computer revolution be something that looks good,” he said.

The transition may be happening, based on a smart-bracelet initiative on Kickstarter. The EMBRACE+ bracelet does not replace your cellphone, but it does offer customized color notifications for incoming calls, texts, and social media app notifications. The lightweight, Bluetooth-enabled bracelet could be worn while exercising (perhaps with the 94Fifty sensor basketball) or swimming.

EMBRACE+, the developers say, “is for those who have a busy lifestyle and want to stay connected with their smartphones…people who love the idea of combining fashion with technology.”

There is still work to be done—mastering an expensive complex molding technique, compliance with US and EU regulations, including passing the ISO 2281 water-resistance test to obtain the 5ATM Water Resistant Mark so the bracelet can be worn during swimming.

The developers have reached about 25% of their fundraising goal on Kickstarter but expect to deliver bracelets to backers in June.

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