“Smart” sports could boost physical activity.
What’s happening: huupe, makers of a motion-tracking connected basketball hoop, secured $11M in new funding, less than a year after closing $3M in a seed round.
What it is: huupe’s motion-tracking, AR-enabled backboard tracks shots and gamifies performance. Adding to the training experience, it’s networked to other huupes for easy competition while, locally, the backboard-embedded screen displays on-demand workouts and drills from NBA and youth skill coaches.
It’s also enabled with streaming video, allowing users to watch live NBA games or other content while they play.
Between the lines: Sure, huupe adds an aspect of gamification and community to an inherently social game. But to match young players’ digitally inclined behaviors, IRL sports may have to evolve.
Of course, with a price tag between $5K and $6.5K (plus a $30/mo. content subscription), the company will have to scale production to reduce cost for the solo player. In the near-term, communal installations (crowdfunded or billed to athletic departments) could create a hub for hybrid competition.
Advancing the Game
According to huupe, ~4M new basketball goals are installed globally per year, with a premium, regulation hoop fetching $2.5K or more.
With gyms, community centers, and schools already equipping themselves—and robust worldwide basketball interest—new tech could help further the game.
- VR basketball platform Gym Class raised $8M last year and recently signed an NBA licensing agreement to bring team-branded accessories to the game.
- Finnish startup SIQ Basketball, makers of a FIBA-approved shot-tracking ball, just raised $3M to scale its platform’s international leaderboards and social games.
- Targeting sports teams and leagues Uplift Labs’ smartphone-based motion capture tech brings performance and injury-prevention metrics to the everyday athlete.
Investing in innovation, last year, the NBA debuted Launchpad, an incubator for emerging technologies pushing the game forward.
Just announced, the league’s second cohort doubles down on performance-tracking tech, featuring French data tracking firm SkillCorner, AI digital twin startup Springbok Analytics, and Supersapiens, which uses CGMs to link nutrition to physical performance.
Looking ahead: Beyond ball, huupe hopes to revolutionize lacrosse, hockey, and soccer, potentially introducing a new hybrid digital/physical state of play. Yet, the sport of basketball and soccer are so universal because of their low cost to play — meaning the ball will be in the court of organizations and leagues to take this tech to new heights.