Just as the Hawk-Eye image tracking and analysis tool finds its way for the first time into professional snooker coverage and begins early trials for possible use in English Premier League football, a rival system has arrived, from, of all places Paris, to challenge its dominance in cricket umpiring decisions, writes Adrian Pennington.
A French maker of high performance thermal imaging cameras, Cedip Infrared Systems, has worked with Australia's BBG Sports to apply the technology to remotely sense and measure the tiny amount of heat generated by a collision such as ball on pad, ball on bat or ball on ground.
Two Emerald IR cameras, collectively dubbed Hot Spot, produce a black and white negative image showing the ball's precise point of contact.
When a bowler fires a cricket ball into a batsman's bat or protective pads at speeds of close to 100mph, the split-second collision produces friction, and therefore a brief blast of low-level heat which emits infra-red light.
The system was trialed during the Ashes test series at the end of 2006 between Australia and England in Brisbane and Adelaide, and used to analyse umpiring decisions by broadcaster Nine Network, with 'Hot Spot' positioned at opposite ends of the ground.
Nine Network's head of sport Steve Crawley has said the application is a scientifically proven piece of technology "that will end all speculation surrounding a dismissal."
The Emerald LR was developed for long range military surveillance and missile tracking. The device incorporates compound semiconductor detectors and a 640x512 pixel array.