Soccer ball

DribbleUp’s ‘smart’ soccer ball helps you train with an app

We live in a time when even the most conventional things around us, like balls for playing sports, are getting smart in one way or another. In recent years, brands such as Adidas and Wilson have introduced sensor-loaded bullets designed to track performance data, including shot accuracy and trajectory. But these products are far from perfect: They aren’t always accurate, and in the case of Adidas’ miCoach Smart Ball, having to charge it is a tedious process. It’s here that Brooklyn-based startup DribbleUp hopes to shine with its new app-enabled soccer ball.

One of the coolest parts of DribbleUp’s ball is that it doesn’t contain any sensors. Rather than pairing it with an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, this step is done when you scan a QR code type optical marker on the ball design with your smartphone or tablet’s camera. I was actually quite surprised at how efficiently it worked during our demo, as the setup only took about a second or two. Once you’ve done that, DribbleUp claims that its proprietary computer vision and machine learning takes care of tracking the ball in real time and uses that information to gauge your footwork.

Gallery: Playing with the “smart” soccer ball from DribbleUp | 13 photos

Gallery: Playing with the “smart” soccer ball from DribbleUp | 13 photos

Granted, it can be a little weird to practice your skills in front of a screen, but the virtual trainer does a great job of not being intrusive. All you see is the ball, your feet, and depending on the lesson, a set of digital cones and a speed bar that show how well (or not) you are doing. The companion app gives you access to over 100 drills, ranging from juggling tutorials to side strikes, ball steps, and alternate sole kick challenges – moves you would practice during a soccer practice session. typical. At the end of each workout you will be rated based on your effectiveness: “A +” means you did exceptionally well, “F” suggests you should probably find another sport to play.

There are also playlists in the app that provide daily lessons, with different combinations of exercises that you can filter based on your level of expertise or age. DribbleUp says the system is designed for all types of players, from someone who plays recreationally to the pros and even kids who are just starting out in the sport. I can see this as a great tool for people to train indoors, as the reflection of the iPhone and iPad screens we were using didn’t really make for a pleasant experience outdoors, especially if the sun is out. .

The good news is that since the bullet doesn’t come with built-in sensors, you don’t have to worry about charging it or depending on the app to be useful. As is the case with most premium soccer balls, the DribbleUp is hand stitched and made from synthetic leather and water resistant materials. It should be noted that this is not the first time that DribbleUp has created a “smart” ball. He also has an app-enabled basketball, which he says is one of the best sellers on Amazon – we checked and it has a 4.5 star rating, so it looks like most buyers are happy with their purchase.

At $ 90, DribbleUp’s soccer ball is worth a look when it launches on November 1, especially since most high-quality balls cost between $ 100 and $ 150. And you have to remember that none of these come with a virtual trainer. Yes, it can be a little whimsical (because who really wants to practice in front of an iPhone or iPad), but at least you get the chance to see if AR-esque exercises can help improve your skills. In the worst case scenario, you take it out with you and treat yourself like you would any other stupid ball.

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