"The miCoach ecosystem is rooted in making athletes better."
With its new intelligent sphere, priced at $299, the sporting goods giant aims to give players not only something to use as a playing ball, but also a tool to improve their skills. A key part of the ball, naturally, is integrating the Smart Ball into Adidas' miCoach environment, one that focuses on keeping track of your data during workouts or training sessions. "The miCoach ecosystem is rooted in making athletes better," said Christian DiBenedetto, senior innovation director at Adidas. In this case, the Smart Ball's miCoach app, which is only available for iOS at the moment, pairs with the ball over Bluetooth and lets you view how fast you're kicking the ball and its trajectory, as well as set challenges for yourself and save records so that you can compare them at a later point.
"Today, if players want to improve their kicking, they may take some balls to the local field and just kick over and over again trying to produce the kick intended and if they do, they have to try and figure out what they did differently to make it happen. The Smart Ball already understands how to do the kick that the player wants to learn, so after every kick, it coaches the player on what exactly they need to do to achieve the kick," explained DiBenedetto. "This makes the learning process much more efficient. In the game, the player only gets one chance to make that free kick; with the Smart Ball, we are turning good luck into good technique."
In my experience, the general feeling while playing with the Smart Ball was a great one. Adidas' miCoach app works really well; it shows where exactly you struck the ball and your most recent shots, all while sending the info to an iOS device almost instantly after taking a shot. The wait between measured shots, though, is something I found to be cumbersome -- for example, after taking a kick, you have to wait for the application to collect that data before moving on, otherwise it disrupts the process and fails to record your stats. Still, since this is meant to be for training, after all, it is a requirement to get the most out of the ball -- and seeing those neat numbers makes it worthwhile. Given its features, it's worth noting that the Smart Ball does need to be charged every now and then, but this process is made easier with the included wireless charging station.