GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLL! Wait, was that a goal? I’m not sure…
Technology has weaved its way into the soccer world by becoming integrated into soccer balls. The “world’s first intelligent and app-enabled soccer ball,” the Adidas miCoach Smart Ball uses a “six-axis MEMS accelerometer sensor package” to measure many characteristics of the ball from speed and spin to flight trajectory. The sensors are suspended in the center of the ball with the axes extending to the outer edges. The information is sent through Bluetooth technology to a smartphone and can be accessed through the miCoach Smart Ball iOS and Android applications developed by Adidas.
There are so many perks to having technology integrated into every facet of a sport. It provides for a unique experience that can really change how a game is played. In addition to this, it can make learning the game much easier. With this smart ball technology, it is essentially like buying a coach for yourself, as seen by the name. The technology implanted into the ball is so elite that it is able to detect the spin, power, flight path, and much more through the application. This is so useful as it helps the athlete learn about his technique and where to really focus on improvements. It gives you instant feedback to really make improvements when necessary.
Technology within the coaching realm of sports has definitely shifted how the game is taught and learned in this generation. As I grew up, I played golf, which is an extremely technical sport. Given this, it was so important to know exactly how your swing looks and how it really impacts the ball. Ball striking is so crucial to a golf shot and with improved technology, athletes are now able to watch their swing and ball impact with slow motion cameras. This has transformed with indoor driving ranges and improved coaching technology.
Accuracy / Precision of Information
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa featured an embarrassing mistake on behalf of the referees of the match between Germany and England in the Round of 16. With the German squad leading 2-1, the match officials missed a shot by England’s Frank Lampard that had clearly landed a yard beyond the German goal line. Thanks to Adidas’s Micoach Smart Ball and its built in sensor package, matches are much less prone to such crucial errors. The Smart Ball analyzes data such as ball spin, impact, and visual flight trajectories, among other pieces of information. This information is easily accessible to the user through the miCoach Smart Ball iOS app, as the ball’s sensor package connects to the phone by way of Bluetooth technology. Convenient access to such technology not only makes for more accurate refereeing, but also puts an innovative spin on the individual training process, allowing coaches to point at specific sets of data rather than requiring them to judge players’ performances solely by eyes and intuition. The real-time nature of the Smart Ball’s technology ensures that it always operates at its ceiling of accuracy, allowing players, coaches and match officials to review their decisions constantly.
The Micoach Smart Ball is not without its fair share of technology-related glitches, not to mention a growing concern over the lessening authenticity of the athletic experience by introducing technology into sports. Unfavorable reviews of the product tend to focus on the incompatibility of the ball’s sensor package with their respective mobile devices. Furthermore, the higher-than-average cost of $200 for a soccer ball makes it more difficult to replace in the instances of puncturing or technological malfunctioning resulting from constant impact over long periods of time. On the cultural side, products like the Micoach Smart Ball raises questions over the authenticity of the sporting experience. No other event can capture the attention and dictate the emotions of millions of viewers like a sports game. In these high stake situations, allowing technology and robots to dictate the course of the game could potentially take away from the game’s more human aspect.
Despite the Micoach Smart Ball’s technological shortcomings and its potentially negative impact on the emotional aspect of the game, there is no question that the increasing presence of technology in sports yields exciting possibilities for the in-game experience and individual training process. In the following years, it will be exciting to see how this technology further develops.