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Sensors Keep Eye on the (Soccer) Ball

Feb. 1, 2024
An innovative application of MEMS motion sensors in soccer balls brings an extra level of specificity to the game at its highest levels.

Check out Microwaves & RF's coverage of CES 2024.

Wireless technology is worming its way into just about everything these days. One wouldn't think of a soccer ball as a vehicle for electronics, but such is the case with Adidas's miCoach Smart Ball. Used in 2022 FIFA World Cup matches and by all major soccer leagues, the ball contains some rather sophisticated circuitry in the form of a 6-axis, MEMS-based motion sensor from TDK InvenSense

The Adidas balls are outfitted with TDK's ICM-42686-P device, which comprises a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerometer on the same silicon die. As can be seen in the accompanying video with Rob Dick, an applications engineer at TDK InvenSense, the device is suspended at the center of the ball's interior and tracks the ball's movement. 

Motion sensors within soccer balls serve at least two purposes: Their data can determine, to a very high degree of accuracy, whether a goal has (or has not) been scored. They're also valuable in training and monitoring performance of individual athletes.

Data from the sensor is transmitted with ultra-wideband (UWB), which uses pulsed packet data transmissions spread over a bandwidth of over 500 MHz. This enables extremely high transfer rates over a range of about 100 meters. Using UWB in this application provides high data throughput without interfering with conventional narrowband and carrier-wave transmissions, even if they share the same frequency band. 

The ICM-42686-P device is effectively identical to the company's ICM-42688-P. The difference is that the former (the datasheet for which isn't public) offers extended range (±32 g, ±4000 dps vs. ±16 g, ±2000 dps) compared with the ICM-42688-P).

Check out more of Microwaves & RF's coverage of CES 2024.

About the Author

David Maliniak | Executive Editor, Microwaves & RF

I am Executive Editor of Microwaves & RF, an all-digital publication that broadly covers all aspects of wireless communications. More particularly, we're keeping a close eye on technologies in the consumer-oriented 5G, 6G, IoT, M2M, and V2X markets, in which much of the wireless market's growth will occur in this decade and beyond. I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, developers, and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

You can send press releases for new products for possible coverage on the website. I am also interested in receiving contributed articles for publishing on our website. Use our contributor's packet, in which you'll find an article template and lots more useful information on how to properly prepare content for us, and send to me along with a signed release form. 

About me:

In his long career in the B2B electronics-industry media, David Maliniak has held editorial roles as both generalist and specialist. As Components Editor and, later, as Editor in Chief of EE Product News, David gained breadth of experience in covering the industry at large. In serving as EDA/Test and Measurement Technology Editor at Electronic Design, he developed deep insight into those complex areas of technology. Most recently, David worked in technical marketing communications at Teledyne LeCroy, leaving to rejoin the EOEM B2B publishing world in January 2020. David earned a B.A. in journalism at New York University.

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