The Future Is Here
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Bouncing Star Glowing Smart Ball Ushers In the Tron Age of Sports

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Forget Beijing—the future of sports is appearing at SIGGRAPH 2008 in LA. This softball-sized Bouncing Star rubber ball has a cluster of full-color LEDS, an infrared transceiver and an accelerometer under its impact-friendly shell. By combining these components, the ball can create bright interactive games that you play by themselves, or with an interactive display. Here, the floor itself is a screen with the form of a court projected onto it, that responds to the ball's movement.

The game in the video above requires each player to try to hit a projected target on the court with the Bouncing Star. As a player picks up the ball and begins to throw it on the court, the accelerometer in the ball acknowledges motion and transforms the ball's color. Using infrared, the ball can interact with the digital court; when the ball touches down or races by, the court can display a motion graphic or some other cool visual reaction.

Because of the low light in the video above, the intensity of the ball's interaction with the display was not well documented, but the idea of a ball wirelessly interacting with a digital court is pure genius. If the same principles of this Bouncing Star could be integrated into all sports using balls, we would have some amazing games to play and to watch. In Tron, the crazy Frisbee game was just a program inside of a computer, but this Tron-like tech—designed by engineers at Japan's University of Electro-Communications—could soon happen in real life. You hearing this, Nintendo? [Bouncing Star at SIGGRAPH]