Basketball’s First Smartwatch

First we had a wired shooting sleeve, slews of fitness-tracking bands and a couple of technologically-advanced basketballs. It was only a matter of time that we’d see the first smartwatch created to help players get better on and off the court.

In function, Hoop Tracker performs like many other such devices that track your shots out on the court. It keeps tabs on your shooting percentages, accuracy and location relative to the hoop (it’s main claim to fame, enabling you to track your field goals, three-pointers and free throws). As a smartwatch, it’s also meant to be worn for longer periods. In watch mode, it will display useful non-basketball information such as time of day and a stopwatch, as well as measure daily fitness metrics such as calories burned.

The way you can see your results, however, is what differentiates it. Although a companion iOS and PC app can be synched to the watch to give you more advanced readouts, the watch’s simple on-board display can give you instant feedback in the clutch. You can recap every shot you made (or didn’t) during up to 10 games, for example, including where you took made the attempts from. It’s from the watch that you can also access the system’s training programs and games, so there’s no need to lug around a bulky iPad or duck out to the sidelines to check your stats.

The training programs give you a specific regimen for improving your shots, and can be customized to suit your position games. The games are also a fun diversion, and include casual contests such as a 100-point challenge and a three-point shootout. In true wearable tradition, trophies and badges can be earned, too—it could certainly be motivational knowing you just hit a 1,000 point milestone.

Accolades aren’t limited to digital trinkets, though. A coach can access the stats of a roster up to 15 players deep at once from the sidelines. The software will rank players by position and shooting success rates, which can help trainers decide which positions to put their players in.

What Hoop Tracker makes up for in functionality and statistical feedback, it loses in clunkiness—in order to properly function, it forces you to turn your basketball hoop into a glorified arcade machine. Users mount a magnetic paddle to the backboard with an included mounting pole. Everytime the ball passes through the hoop, the paddle tallies up a made shot. Missed goals are detected automatically, but only if they cause a vibration on the rim. Airballs have to be manually counted via button press every time.

This analog option, although currently one of the better ones out there, lacks the appeal of higher-brow motion-sensing technology. It also doesn’t have much connectivity with a smartphone. Combined with the unsexiness of a design reminiscent of one of the original Casio G-Shock watches, it may be a tough sell in the stylish Nick Young’s league. However, for a serious player, Hoop Tracker may prove to be a viable training option.

Wireless Sports, the smartwatch’s creators, are currently attempting to crowdfund the device.


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