A sporting chance through technology

1 Jul 2010

After Germany’s defeat of England on Sunday there’s been talk again about the need for goal-line technology rather than post-match analysis of player performance.

The debate surrounding goal-line technology began again after Frank Lampard’s shot bounced over the line but failed to be recognised by referee Jorge Larrionda and his assistant.

This failure to spot the ball is one of several incidents throughout the Fifa World Cup 2010, calling into question the reliance on the human eye and split-second decision making without incorporating some kind of technology that would see the action from several angles in real-time.

Of course, the Irish will be quite well acquainted with arguing the case for goal-line technology. There was a pre-World Cup meeting of the International Football Association Board on 11 March looking at the rules of the game following Thierry Henry’s famous handball that
knocked us out of the running.

At the time Fifa president Sepp Blatter said video replays would not affect the decision made, but he did, however, indicate that goal-line
technology might be revisited.

What is goal-line technology?

This proposed technology lets the referee know when the ball has crossed the goal line. It could be in the form of Hawk-Eye technology, which is already being used to track the path of the ball in tennis and cricket using high-speed cameras and triangulation, or it could be a special football with a chip inside.

The Adidas/Cairos technologies Chip-Ball is a prototype that essentially has its own GPS system using a magnetic field to determine where the ball is in 3D space.

In Ireland, we are also innovating in this field. The Clarity Centre for Sensor Web Technologies, a partnership between University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin City University and Tyndall National Institute, has begun a research effort with Disney to look at new technologies in sports broadcasting.

Clarity/Disney researchers teamed up with the Irish hockey team to set up multiple cameras (currently 13) around the National Hockey Stadium at UCD. The information captured can be used for a variety of broadcasting and training purposes and could be incorporated with other research areas, including wireless motion sensing/tracking and motion capture to bring about a revolution in how teams, players and the audience experience sports.