Designers reinvent the ball

As designers we're constantly alive to the potential of design to improve our lives. And so creatives are constantly applying new technology and imagination to radically reinvent everything from the GIF (opens in new tab) to the music video (opens in new tab) to the fashion magazine (opens in new tab).

It takes a brave designer, though, to try to rethink such a fundamental concept as the ball.

But that's just what product design company Made by Many (opens in new tab) is attempting, with the Hackaball (opens in new tab).

The company spent 18 months prototyping the design

The company spent 18 months prototyping the design

From football to basketball to baseball and beyond, humankind has spent centuries in the enthusiastic pursuit of sports involving spherical objects that bounce - so how could you possibly improve on this basic design concept?

Many by Many's answer is simple: make it talk to your smartphone.

"Hackaball is an iPhone connected ball," they explain. "A ball is a toy you play with, throw, bounce, kick, chase... but what happens if the ball knew it had been kicked and responded?"

It's a ball for the smartphone generation

It's a ball for the smartphone generation

This functionality, they reason, opens the ball up to a near-infinite possibility of new games.

"Hackaball is full of outputs, it turns many colours, vibrates, plays sounds and it can sense many things like shaking, falling, quick passes, slow passes… and more.

"We think of these outputs and sensors as game variables that can be mixed up to invent new games."

Kids will be able to program their own games

Kids will be able to program their own games

There are two components to Hackaball, a ball and an app. You choose the game on the app (or invent your own) and then play it with the ball.

After working with children over 18 months to prototype the design, Made by Many launched the Hackaball at SXSW in March (opens in new tab).

It's not gone into production yet but we can't wait till it does. Will this be the future of playground games?

Gimmick - or a glimpse of the future?

Gimmick - or a glimpse of the future?

Have you seen the future in a design concept or prototype? Share it with us in the comments below!

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Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity (opens in new tab), published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, T3.com and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.