Different segments of a ring shape that light up individually

… when a ball bounces off different parts of that ring. (It could actually be other types of things, such as a cage.) But the ring itself moves of course as one thing.

How would you implement such a thing? Would each segment be a separate object, say, parented, say, to some convenient Empty? Or would you, say, name different vertex or face groups somehow and devise logic somehow that detects exactly where the contact took place?

I’m mulling over this requirement right now and would love your thoughts.