Americans are preparing to kick off the 2016 (American) football season tonight. And while they do, the sporting-goods manufacturer Wilson is looking to help bring fans closer to the game than ever before. The brand that has provided the “official” football of the National Football League for 76 years is bringing the adrenaline rush and excitement of a professional football game to backyards, tailgate parties, parks, and gyms everywhere
With its new Wilson X Connected Football, Wilson aims to create a new experience for football fans that taps the Internet of Things era, and makes their footballs “smart.”
Imagine a football that makes you feel like the star player on your team, leading that team down a virtual NFL field to score the game-winning touchdown while delivering never-before-seen stats such as spiral efficiency, which evaluates how tight your passes are by measuring the wobble of the football’s nose. Sensors in the ball also tell you how far you’ve thrown the ball, the velocity at which you threw it, and its spin rate while in the air. And all while making you feel like your favorite quarterback, this information could one day help you raise your game.
Beyond giving you the excitement of quarterbacking your team, the Wilson X Connected Football also attempts to weigh in on the long-running argument about whether the ball has been caught or dropped by measuring the deceleration of the ball’s spin; a caught ball’s spiral decelerates smoothly whereas a dropped ball bounces around. All of this info is shared with an app on the user’s smartphone and can be shared in social media, so let the bragging begin.
How did Wilson make this football smart? Two ultra-low-power internal MEMS accelerometers—an ST LIS331HH high-g device and an ST LIS2DH12 low-g device—are suspended in the middle of the ball inside the bladder where they sleep until you’re ready to play. A unique movement pattern–to avoid false alarms–wakes them up. And because of the sensors’ ultra-low-power design, the ball is powered by an embedded watch-style battery that’s specified to keep the ball juiced for more than 500 hours of connected play, or approximately 200,000 passes.
Check out this video to see how it works.
This is one smart football. It comes in both Official and Junior sizes and you can find out more about the Wilson X Connected Football at Wilson’s Web site.
 —For reference, the record for most passes thrown in a professional football career is the 10,169 that Brett Favre threw from 1991-2010