miCoach Smart Ball
adidas, Innovation Team
The Adidas miCoach Smart Ball was an interactive soccer ball containing internally-suspended sensors that could track height, speed, and trajectory. Targeted as a training device for adolescents and young adults, it was highly experimental in nature, testing the waters within the emerging IoT industry.
Teaching technical physical skills using a handful of sensors and a smartphone is a feat; it comes with significant spatial and physical constraints, and requires deep thought and research into theories of learning and cognition. This was our task, at a time when there were few models for IoT devices and companion apps available on the market, so the design and engineering process involved a significant amount of experimentation and innovation.
I created the UI for the companion app and contributed UX design for some sticky features, including the knuckle ball kick (a difficult concept to convey without an expert in-person). I also conducted guerilla testing involving younger users (age 5-9). This wasn't our core demographic, but knowing children would be interacting with the device, I took the opportunity to get feedback on usability and just generally observe their behaviors. I was able to document some easily-addressed opportunities to improve the experience for younger children without impacting the experience for the core demographics. I also gained interesting insights into how children find hacks and novel usages for technology, independent of any direction beyond the obvious affordances.
We released a fully functional product that gave users many delightful experiences, although the overall utility was ultimately questionable and sales were low given the price-point (which was anticipated). As an exploration, however, we gained significant learnings that informed user experience and product strategy.