Sony-owned sports analysis firm Hawk-Eye is preparing for another round of FIFA tests as the sport’s world governing body moves closer to permitting goal-line technology, writes Adrian Pennington.
More immediately Hawk-Eye is being examined by the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland with a view to introducing Score Detection Technology in hurling, the world’s fastest field sport, where the ball can travel at more than 150 km/h (93 mph). It is already widely used in other sports, particularly tennis and cricket.
Ball tracking technology vendors are preparing for a second round of FIFA tests, which in this instance can be at a soccer venue of the supplier’s choice.
In its tender document FIFA states that the new tests will “be conducted in two phases at a football stadium selected by the respective technology providers, in consultation with FIFA.”
No date has been set but FIFA is widely expected to agree to install goal-line technology for the start of the 2012-13 season.
Hawk-Eye declined to take part in the first round of tests at which 12 competing technologies, including UK technology Goalminder, took part and were rejected by FIFA.
To proceed to the second round, states FIFA, technologies must demonstrate a minimum of 90% accuracy in recognising whether both a static or a moving ball is across the line. Technologies must also inform the referee about goal-line incidents with both a vibration and a display signal to his watch, wherever he is on the pitch. The testing will be carried out under both daylight and floodlight conditions.
Hawk-Eye’s system will compute information from cameras located in the stands around the goal, positioned to achieve minimal occlusion.
“We have tested our technology with the Premier League and it passed all the tests set for it,” said Hawk-Eye managing director Stephen Carter. “We also learned a huge amount about the process. The greater computing power and resolution of cameras available now continue to improve ball tracking systems.
“Football is the big one with lots of potential all round the world to use the technology. Hurling is also a focus and given that we are part of Sony, we are also looking toward Japanese sports,” said Carter.
He added: “When moving into a new market or sport the question is how established is the competition and what is the editorial value of what you are providing. With basketball for example you have to ask what the value is of tracking the ball, how does it enrich the content?”
Goalminder records video at 2,000 frames per second from high-speed cameras built into the fabric of the goal posts and cross bar. It claims there is no complex calibration required or expensive camera systems in and around the stadium.
Uefa president Michel Platini recently re-iterated his opposition to goal-line technology in the game.
Hawk-Eye has adapted its technology for use in a simulated cricket game, which it is about to launch in India. Similar to the craze for street golf, Hawk-Eye’s game involves projections of balls bowled from stars such as Brett Lee and Muttiah Muralitharan, followed by an actual ball bowled by a bowling machine and a graphic projection of where that ball would have been hit.
The game also performs the reverse in which players bowl a ball at a screen and Hawk-Eye projects video of how batsmen like Tendulkar and Lasith Malinger would have played it.