An airless basketball? It’s a slam dunk

March 2, 2023 | By Anthony Venutolo

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In Tech is our regular feature highlighting what people are talking about in the world of technology — everything from crypto and NFTs to smart cities and cybersecurity.


The Houston Rockets’ K.J. Martin may not have won the NBA’s Slam Dunk contest, part of its All-Star Weekend 2023, but the experience was anything but deflating.

In the first round of the contest, Wilson Sporting Goods, the official basketball of the NBA, had Martin debut a first-of-its-kind 3D-printed airless basketball — it’s covered with a pattern of open hexagons, allowing air to flow through the ball. It left the sports star stunned.

"When I first heard it, I didn't know what to expect," Martin told Forbes. "Once I actually saw the ball in person, it was crazy. I didn't expect a basketball with holes to bounce and feel like a normal leather basketball."

The Wilson airless basketball was created in collaboration with EOS, a company that specializes in the use of 3D printing for industrial usage, including medical and aerospace applications.

The 3D Wilson Airless Prototype is completely playable and comes close to meeting all of the performance requirements of a standard basketball, including weight, size and bounce. The eight panel-like "lobes" of the latticework, however, do not require inflation. Nadine Lippa, the innovation manager at Wilson, told Forbes the difficulty was identifying the materials and lattice designs required to absorb energy.

But the airless basketball won't be available at your neighborhood sporting goods store any time soon. This ball is presently just a prototype, with the next version to be informed by fan and athlete insights, Lippa told Forbes: ”We are excited to see how the dunk contest is received.”

Titanic NFTs? Let that sink in

Talk about your dinner party icebreakers. Items salvaged from the Titanic's wreckage will be tokenized using blockchain technology as part of a collaboration led by the business that serves as the sunken vessel's custodian.

A collaboration between RMS Titanic Inc., Venture Smart Financial Holdings and Web3 startup Artifact Labs will begin tokenizing these relics from the Titanic, allowing buyers to unlock a plethora of benefits, including VIP events at exhibitions, seminars with historians and access to one-of-a-kind experiences.

RMST has exclusive rights to retrieve artifacts from the Titanic and its wider debris field from the North Atlantic Ocean's bottom, while Venture Smart Financial Holdings will be in charge of structuring the tokenization of intellectual property associated with the artifacts.

Taking RMST into the Web3 space would help it to reach more people with its informative and motivational content, said Jessica Sanders, RMST president in a statement: "As the salvor-in-possession of the Titanic wreck site, we are determined to ensure that the ship's artifacts are preserved in perpetuity and accessible to future generations."

Artifact Labs will produce NFTs for 5,500 found objects from the sunken ship. Future objects found at the Titanic's final resting place will also be issued as NFTs.

Artifact Labs also intends to establish a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, for the Titanic, which will allow members to engage in various initiatives, such as proposals for expeditions and the development of educational programming and digital content, and to make recommendations for the preservation and exhibition of recovered artifacts. Plus, there's always bragging rights for owning a chunk of world history.

Getting e-static about AI radio

If video didn’t quite kill the radio star, it looks like AI might finish the job. Futuri has announced the debut of RadioGPT, an AI-powered on-air content creation platform. Alpha Media and Rogers Sports & Media are among the beta partners for the new automated DJ service.

RadioGPT employs TopicPulse, its tech that combs through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and 250,000-plus additional news and information sources to determine which subjects are trending in a given market. Then, utilizing the generative AI technology that also powers recent tech sensation ChatGPT, RadioGPT generates an on-air script, which AI voices transform into audio.

Now imagine this: Stations can choose from several AI voices for single-, duo-, or trio-hosted shows or they can train the AI with the voices of their current personalities.

RadioGPT’s tech can power individual parts of a day or the entire station. "The ability for broadcasters to use RadioGPT to localize their on-air content in a turnkey fashion opens up resources for them to deepen their important home-field advantages in new and unique ways," said Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig in a press release. "With RadioGPT, the possibilities are endless. Now everyone can be live and local." Listen to a sample livestream here.

Spotify also announced its own version of AI audio curation on February 22 for its premium users. Its DJ is a personalized AI guide that knows you and your music tastes so well that it can choose what to play for you. This feature will give you a hand-picked list of songs and a stunningly realistic voice that talks about the songs and artists it thinks you'll like.

Lifelike voices will be created from text using a dynamic AI voice platform from the company's acquisition of Sonantic.

Popular Science explains a bit more how it works: Every week, a writer's room decides what to write about the songs on the top playlists, like those organized by genre. Another set of writers and cultural specialists are invited to discuss the language they want to use when providing users with feedback on the songs. Next, the generative AI scales this base script and adapts it to each user.

AI DJ is still in beta, and programmers at Spotify are eager to incorporate user feedback into updated versions.

Here's hoping that this AI-powered content gets, er, good reception.

Anthony Venutolo, Manager, Global Communications