Basketball net will rate the force of dunks during Slam Dunk Contest

Posted to Self-surveillance  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Sometimes power dunks don't get much credit, because it's hard to see on television how hard the ball was thrown down. The MIT Media Lab created a net to fix that, and we'll get to see it in action this Saturday during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

MIT Media Lab used conductive thread to generate a reading for the force of every slam thrown down. The fabric, as flexible as the nylon in conventional basketball nets, has long been valued for its ability to transmit electrical signals in products ranging from winter gloves to high-tech carpets. By spinning the thread through a regular basketball net and connecting it to a computer chip, mounted behind the backboard, that renders the force in a graphical output, MIT and Turner have at long last found a way to instantaneously transmit the force of a dunk from the rim to your television screen.

The past two years have been lackluster, so I wasn't planning on watching this year, but this new dimension could add some intrigue.

[Wired via @bbhlabs]


  • Really cool. As if my arm didn’t hurt when I watched before! The MPH of pitches in baseball becomes an annoyance when not available. This may become a staple…

  • This is a very cool idea, but I’m not sure it captures what most people think of when they consider a “power” dunk. Darryl Dawkins is one of the best power dunkers of all time not because he could put the ball through the net at a high velocity, but because he could shatter backboards into a million pieces. The power generated by a dunker != the power expressed through the ball.

  • As a non-basketball fan, can anyone tell me what the power of a dunk says about the chances of a team winning? I know this is just a dunk contest, but I’d be interested to know what, if any, this new data would be able to tell us about competitiveness.

    • AJ,

      Watch some highlights of Blake Griffin dunking the ball with extreme velocity and you’ll notice that often defenders stop trying to block the shot for fear of a) getting hurt or b) ending up on a poster / video with him dunking over them. By intimidating defenders by dunking with power, this leads to an increase in a team’s field goal percentage and increases the team’s chance of winning.


19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World. Top All-time. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. Watch.

Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts

In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, the American Film Institute selected the 100 most memorable quotes from American cinema, and …

Watching the growth of Walmart – now with 100% more Sam’s Club

The ever so popular Walmart growth map gets an update, and yes, it still looks like a wildfire. Sam’s Club follows soon after, although not nearly as vigorously.

Top Brewery Road Trip, Routed Algorithmically

There are a lot of great craft breweries in the United States, but there is only so much time. This is the computed best way to get to the top rated breweries and how to maximize the beer tasting experience. Every journey begins with a single sip.