WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As physical sports and entertainment merge with digital and virtual forms companies are experimenting with bringing new experiences to the courts.
As we continue to see companies use technology to develop new kinds of games, sports, and arenas, startup Huupe has opened pre-orders on a $4,000 smart basketball hoop, complete with shot tracking, interactive training guides, remote player vs player challenges, and an enormous high-def screen for a backboard – so you can watch TV as you shoot around. Because why not!?
On first glance, this thing looks almost as ridiculous as those internet refrigerators that became a punchline of the noughties. But maybe there’s method to the madness here; I’ll confess to rarely having the attention span to watch TV without having something to fiddle with, and the idea of getting some shots up with Netflix playing on the backboard sounds like a fun way to sneak some exercise into the day.
The Future of Sports 2030, by Keynote Speaker Matthew Griffin
The Huupe will run a bunch of streaming video services, making this eminently possible. But it’s certainly not its raison d’etre. Let’s back up a bit.
We’re looking at a fully weatherproofed backboard with an integrated high-def screen, internet connectivity and a webcam, as well as some proprietary shot tracking tech. And, of course, you put it up more or less wherever you’d put a regular hoop.
See it in action
From there, you use a smartphone as your remote control, and get stuck into the Huupe apps. There’s basic shot tracking, which can build you a sweet graphic showing your makes, misses and percentages from different areas on the court. You can analyze how many times you got nothing but net, or benchmark things like your shot trajectory, speed, agility, release time and vertical leap.
Or you can run one of a bunch of different pre-recorded training sessions. Or you can hook up with a live, qualified trainer online, effectively using the backboard as a webcam as they talk you through your workout. Or you can challenge other Huupe users to a game of HORSE (or whatever the kids call it these days), either live or asynchronously, having your score sent to them so they can try to beat it.
All of which is pretty neat, but to my mind the greatest thing about this device is that it’s a big ol’ screen you can goggle at while you keep your body moving. All the better if you’re streaming an NBA game on the backboard. Yes, it’s ludicrously expensive, but that’s smart fitness gear for you. Check out a short video.