HoopCam: Basketball Re-imagined Through Mobile

Walk by the basketball court at Southorn Playground on a Sunday afternoon, and you’re likely to find a game in action involving grown men in sweaty tanks, European expats, wiry schoolboys, and middle-aged Southeast Asian men decked out in team colors. Stay a little longer, and you might catch the intense glow in their eyes and moments of camaraderie and teamwork built from the simple phrase, “I’m open.” You might see the dogged persistence of one player as he takes the ball, dribbles, bends, aims—and shoots a 3-pointer, narrowly making the basket.    

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the demography of the players, this unlikely crowd does share one thing in common.

In Hong Kong, ball is life.

This same observation of a thriving basketball community in Wanchai’s public courts was what led James Kwok, Eric Tsang and Mike Wong, the co-founders of HoopCam to launch their first mobile app. As regulars to Southorn themselves, they observed that street ball in Hong Kong is a ruthless, take-no-prisoners kind of game, which also masterfully blurs the lines between skill, precision and teamwork. At Southorn, race and age don’t matter in this level playing field.

With HoopCam, each round is composed of three “games” of 10 seconds each, with a ticking timer counting down the seconds each player has to make a basket. The leaderboard then reveals the winner, and the highlight reel on HoopCam’s homepage captures footage of the suspenseful moments leading up to each made basket. In replaying the clips on the highlight reel, players can re-live their moment of glory, analyze their footwork, and also see in real-time the ergonomics of what constitutes a good shot. HoopCam also functions as a virtual playground and a digital space to see “who’s hot and who’s not” incentivizing players to build their profile.

“The point is not to try to reinvent the wheel. We’re just trying to add another dimension to basketball,” Kwok, says.

For basketball enthusiasts, the implications are huge. It means basketball is an option even when players can’t round up enough troops for a full game. 1 v. 1 also instills a healthy sense of competition among friends, while also bringing strangers who might not otherwise play together.

HoopCam’s simple interface, which resembles Snapchat in its simplicity, is intuitive to use. The trio has done the beta testing of the app at Southorn by holding friendly “king of the court” competitions wherein players who enter have a chance of scoring a pair of Kyrie 3 Ep’s and Lebron solder 10’s. Kicks aside, so far the response has been overwhelmingly receptive.

“We want to build what people want. Part of that is doing micro-tests, getting constant feedback, and creating new iterations,” Tsangs says.

The dream team is comprised of Wong, the resident coder, Kwok, who hails from a UX background, and Tsang, a veteran in the startup and tech industry. An innate love for the game and a long- term fascination with the NBA is the impetus for the team when the going gets rough.

When asked what’s next in store for HoopCam, Tsang says, “We’ll look into gamifying the experience. Perhaps we’ll tap into pattern recognition, deep learning and bringing video editing to overlay this… but that’s not for a while.”

HoopCam is free, and is projected to launch in the Apple store in April or May of this year.