Thursday, October 20, 2011

Robo Golf

Several months ago I learned about Sphero (hat tip to Brad Feld), the world’s first robotic ball that is controlled by smartphone apps, and it keeps popping up in my thoughts.

The company has a golf app that is pretty cool.  Essentially, you use movements of your smartphone to control the movements of the ball.  Brilliant.  I don’t know if I’d pay $130 for one, but I do know that I’d want it if I were a kid.

Here's "Office Golf" -

And here's a ridiculous version of "night golf" -

With all the talk in the golf industry about needing to make the game easier and more fun, the Sphero product has me wondering about what other software-based inventions could arise.

How about a ball whose spin can be controlled by a mobile app a la Tiger Woods Golf.  Or, a ball that actually listens to commands like “get down!” or “go!” 

How about a clubhead with a laser in it to show where you’re aimed.  Or, a putter that uses GPS to calculate the distance to the hole and then shows with lasers how far to take the club back and through (a la the lines on a putting mat).  Or, an interesting product someone emailed me about recently involves a putter that reads greens. 

Personally, I’m a golf traditionalist so I likely wouldn’t use products like this outside of testing them and having a little fun.  But I certainly think it would be interesting if stuff like this existed.  With software advancements at their current trajectory, it’s simply a matter of time in my mind before there’s an intersection with golf. 

Sure, the products I described would essentially create a real-life golf video game experience, but who cares?  For most, golf is all about having fun.  If a product like the Sphero gets more people playing and enjoying the game, I’m all for it.

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