A sporting chance?

I don’t really write about sport, so I won’t go on for long about this. I must admit, though, to being a little fascinated by the technology suggested as part of ‘refereeing changes‘ in World Cup football.

Two companies claim they can solve a particular refereeing challenge – goal line technology. In fact both of them must have been ecstatic about Frank Lampard’s unawarded goal against Germany (clip below) for reigniting interest in their previously rejected ideas.

Hawk-Eye, a name any cricket or tennis fan will be familiar with, is technology developed by Winchester-based Hawk-Eye Innovations. The company proposes setting up 500 frames-per-second recording cameras around the goal posts. These will detect to within 5mm whether the ball has crossed the line and alert the referee to this (either via his earpiece or watch) within 0.5 seconds of the incident, enabling him to award goals accurately.

German company Cairos Technologies has taken a different approach: a smart ball instead of smart goalposts. It works by embedding a sensor in the ball, which transmits to receivers behind the goal line and back to a computer, which then alerts the referee via his watch. Coverage of their test solution can be seen below.

Both very cool ideas, that will no doubt solve the problem but even so, look to be expensive and cumbersome to implement. If the flashy new Jabulani ball designed for the World Cup costs £60, who knows what an Adidas ball with a sensor and transmitter embedded in it will set clubs back. The goalpost solution from Hawk-Eye looks interesting but it’s not clear how it will account for the massive movements undergone by the goal posts when they are struck by the ball or players. More information is required on how this is cancelled out to stay within the 5mm accuracy level.