Chip-ing AG is a startup based in Switzerland that produces a smart, connected golf ball designed to help golfers locate it if it gets lost as well as coach them to improve their game.
The ball can easily be located on the course through a mobile app, saving precious time and frustration for both the player as well as other players on the course, waiting for their turn to play. Additionally, the smart ball contains sensors such as accelerometers that help analyze the play style, offering endless possibilities such as virtual game coaching, automatic scoring, and much more.
The solution consists of a mobile iOS and Android app acquiring data from the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) ball during play. It combines this with data from the device sensors and sends it to Azure IoT Hub. Stream Analytics then splits the data and provides the first insight in real time and moves the data to a persistent storage (SQL, DocumentDB or Table service).
Power BI provides a quick visualization of the data, giving Chip-ing key insights into how players are using their product. Chip-ing plans to implement Machine Learning with the goal of improving the location algorithm by correlating data such as signal strength, device heading, and GPS position, thereby making the ball retrieval process as efficient as possible. In a second step, the data analysis should also give more insights into the player’s golfing technique, possibly improving the player’s game.
During a workshop between Microsoft and Chip-ing, we were able to create a first working proof of concept within a few days. The combination of IoT Hub, Stream Analytics, SQL, and Power BI proved to be a very simple yet powerful way to tackle our problem with rapid prototyping. Having a platform that allows you to easily scale to thousands of customers using tens of thousands of golf balls becomes feasible even for a small startup. Azure provides complete management and diagnostic tools that are easy enough to use, allowing even a small team to run a highly scalable production environment.
Have a look at the online Case Study that explains the technologies used in greater detail as well as includes many code samples.