LEDs are being phased into use everywhere from living rooms to offices to car headlights to street-lighting. Whilst these uses are practical, for something a little more exciting we can look to Nike. Its House of Mamba basketball court uses an LED surface for graphics, video and player-tracking.
This is not the first time LEDs have been employed for use in sports courts. Both the LEDSSPORT Pulastic LED Court and the ASB GlassFloor use LEDs to provide court markings. Different sets of markings can be easily switched between, and it avoids the need for a multicolored clutter of lines being printed on the court surface. The House of Mamba court, however, is somewhat more advanced.
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The court was created by AKQA, Rhizomatiks and WiSpark as part of the Nike Rise basketball contest and reality show based in China. Shortlisted contestants were mentored by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant before a selected group contested in a final match and the chance to participate in the Nike World Basketball Festival this September.
The mentoring part of the show took place at the House of Mamba court in Shanghai. The court took about three months to create, from the conceptual design stage through to its fabrication and testing. It has a wooden base layer platform to provide a natural bounce, followed by a layer of over a thousand 2 x 2 ft (0.6 x 0.6 m) interlaced LED screens, a layer of thick glass on top of the screens and an adhesive basketball surface that provides bounce and grip covering the glass layer.
The court, named after Bryant's "Black Mamba" nickname, uses sensors for motion tracking, artificial intelligence and reactive LED technology to display a range of different graphics. The technology is primarily used for training purposes. LED visualizations are used to guide players through a variety of challenges and training drills. The entire playing surface can be used simulate different game scenarios or specific training exercises based on what is required at the time.
Training exercises that the court can run include a sequence of fundamental skills drills, a test of shooting prowess from different spots on the court, dribbling drills and a defense drill using a digital defender.
The video below provides an introduction to Nike's House of Mamba LED basketball court.