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Nike Planning Soccer Ball Radar Device in Digital Push

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Nike Planning Soccer Ball Radar Device in Digital Strategy Push
Nike Inc.'s flagship Niketown store in New York. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Nike Inc. has released shoes and wristbands this year that allow athletes to track their performance. Now it’s planning to put sensors on soccer balls and other equipment to offer data to players of team sports.

The world’s largest sporting-goods maker this week obtained a patent for an invention dubbed Nike+TM that uses a computerized radar system with transmitters placed on a ball and players to evaluate individual statistics such as the strength of a shot in soccer and how well a team plays together.

Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon, has been pushing into digital gadgetry as more people turn to mobile applications to enhance daily activities. The company released the FuelBand, a bracelet that tracks daily activity in January, followed a month later by shoes equipped with sensors that can record such metrics as how high a player jumps during a dunk.

Mary Remuzzi, a spokeswoman for Nike, declined to comment on the patent and when such a product might come to market.

These offerings are part of the company’s Nike+ brand that began in 2006 with a running shoe that used a sensor to record data to Apple Inc.’s iPod.

Nike is using its digital strategy to increase the amount of time consumers spend with its brand as a way to drive sales. With the FuelBand, users can download data to a smartphone application. They can then compare results with friends who also have the bracelet and share them on Facebook Inc.’s social network.

Evauluate Players

The new system could eventually work with several sports including football, basketball, baseball and hockey and serve as a way for coaches to evaluate players, according to a copy of the patent posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.

In one scenario, it could track two soccer players at the same time with sensors on their shoes as well as the ball to measure how well they pass to each other.

Nike fell 0.5 percent to $92.54 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 4 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Townsend in New York at mtownsend9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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