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Goal-Line Tech Stars in World Cup

Source:   Author:   Time:2014-06-17 11:26:11

Technology to help match officials rule whether all of the ball has cross the goal-line will be by far the biggest innovation at the football World Cup that kicks off 12th June in Brazil. Through technology, officials hope to avoid the horrendous injustice that marred the last event four years ago, when England was wrongly denied a clear "goal" at a crucial stage of the quarter-final match against its arch-rival Germany.

The image here shows that mid-fielder Frank Lampard´s shot clearly crossed the line, but the officials claimed they could not see it do so.

He shoots, he scores? This World Cup will feature technology that for the first time will help avoid bad referee calls, such as happened in 2010 (above) when mid-fielder Frank Lampard´s shot clearly crossed the line, but the officials claimed they could not see it do so. Other bad calls from World Cups past can be seen here.

He shoots, he scores? This World Cup will feature technology that for the first time will help avoid bad referee calls, such as happened in 2010 (above) when mid-fielder Frank Lampard´s shot clearly crossed the line, but the officials claimed they could not see it do so. Other bad calls from World Cups past can be seen here.

It stirred the government body, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) -- for long hugely antagonistic toward the use of such technology -- into action, closely and enthusiastically followed by potential suppliers of goal-line technology (GLT) systems that could securely and definitively trace the ball´s trajectory to within millimeter accuracy.

After years of testing, trials and fraught bidding, a little known German company, GoalControl GmbH appeared to have come from the back of the pitch to score against British sports technology pioneer Hawk-Eye Innovations.

The first part of this series looked at the sporting, political and economic aspects of the GLT story, while the second focused more on the technology developments of the various options to emerge. Here´s a list of interesting goal-line tech innovations being used in this year´s World Cup and the competing approaches.

Brazucam

Adidas, the official provider of the balls to be used at the World Cup, has been travelling around the world showing off an innovative, customized version of its ‘Brazuca’ ball ahead of the big kick-off.

Dubbed the Brazucam, the ball has six HD cameras embedded in it that capture 360° views of the action, from the ball’s perspective. The ball features custom-made image stabilization software.

The company has given little away about how this image stabilization works.

In its travels to countries such as the US, Mexico, Japan, Russia, Germany, Spain and England, Brazucam has been capturing stunning, panoramic — and dizzying — videos of some of the potential stars of the tournament doing their exercises and kicking the ball. Take a look at some of these never-seen-before (in World Cup) angles via the Adidas Football YouTube channel:

Ultra HD TV

Global sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympics are regularly used by big consumer electronics and broadcast gear developers to promote the latest in their technology drawers, and this year will be no different. Four years ago in South Africa, 3D was the coming thing, and, surprise, surprise, in Brazil, Sony is planning to blitz us with 4K and Ultra HD.

The Japanese company is working with the organizers on a range of 4K initiatives, including capturing three matches, including the final, in Ultra HD that will form part of what is being called "The Official 2014 FIFA World Cup Film" to be distributed after the event via online feeds .

Sony also plans to produce live TV feeds using its professional 4K range including the CineAlta 4K camera AV storage unit and 4K multi-format switcher. However, FIFA is still finalizing deals with some of the few broadcasters worldwide capable of offering 4K.

At last month´s MIPTV Congress in Cannes, France, Niclas Ericson, head of FIFA´s TV Division, told an audience the governing body is “working hard to finalize all the broadcasting arrangements, and I have to say that some contracts are not quite in place for certain aspects, but we have confirmed that some of the matches will be in 4K.”

Ericson suggested there are still some gaps in the 4K camera plans, and hinted some cameras may have their lenses adapted so as to capture images in HDTV as well as 4K.

FIFA and Sony also indicated that some of the action will be captured in 8K.

UHD displays boast 8 million pixels, four times what can be achieved with HD TVs. But the take-off of 4K TVs from companies such as Sony and Samsung remains slow due to their high prices and the limited availability of content from broadcasters. Market researchers at the NPD Group recently suggested 1.3 million 4K TVs were sold globally last year, and predicted this will rise to 23 million by 2017.

GoalControl-4D system

The winning GoalControl-4D system being deployed in all the stadia in Brazil works with seven cameras trained on each goal capable of taking full-frame, color pictures at 500 frames per second. They are strategically located around the stadium and focused on the goal mouths.

The cameras are connected to a powerful image processing system that tracks the movement of all objects on the field and filters out the players and officials and everything but the ball. The system then calculates its three-dimensional x-, y-, and z- position to within a few millimeters in the coordinate system of the pitch. If and when the ball has completely crossed the line, the central analysis unit transmits within one second an encrypted signal to a specially adapted wristwatch worn by the referee, alerting him both optically and via vibrations that a goal can be awarded.

All camera images of every event are stored and can be replayed at any time.

It ain´t over until the watch vibrates

The manufacturer of the watch being used and the transmission rate and protocols have not been disclosed by GoalControl, apparently for confidential and security reasons. However, EE Times has learned that the device was designed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute fir Integrated Circuits (Erlangen, Germany) and is based on a Texas Instruments watch powered by a chip set from the chip maker. It uses the Fraunhofer group´s patented software and protocol. The FIFA approved device operate in the frequency ranges 865 to 870MHz and 915 to 930MHz.

Hawkeye GLT

The underlying technology and mode of operation behind Hawkeye GLT is remarkably similar to that of GoalControl-4D. One of the reasons eyebrows were raised when the German company was chosen for the World Cup in Brazil is because the British group already has a great track record and has become a familiar visual aid to umpires and fans in tennis and cricket for many years. Hawk-Eye´s first GLT system was already tested by the English Premier League in a match in 2007 and was used for the first time the season just ended by the PL.

Its use has only increased the chatter amongst fans and has hardly impacted the speed and continuity of the game, as many had feared it would.

The officials´ watch used with the Hawk-Eye system was developed in an exclusive deal with French company Adeunis RF, but neither company is commenting on the frequencies deployed for sending the encrypted data to the match officials.

Goal Ref

Goal Ref, originally a research project at the ISIS Katrinebjerg in Denmark and subsequently further developed and commercialized by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (Erlangen, Germany), made it to FIFA´s shortlist. It is a radio-based sensing system that deploys low-frequency magnetic fields to detect if a goal has been scored. Its proponents stress there are many opportunities for the technology down the line.

It is claimed to be lot cheaper to install and operate than either GoalControl or Hawk-Eye and thus, in the longer term, should be more suitable in the lower echelons of the game.

Thomas Pellkofer, Operations Manager for GoalRef at Fraunhofer IIS told EE Times the group is confident the system will be chosen by other national football associations and maybe even by FIFA for future events.

He said the compact system can be installed easily to football pitches of any size and any location, and all that is needed is a power source. Receiving antennas are attached to the goal frame (see image) and a processing units is located behind the goal or perimeter boards.

In operation, one field is generated in the goal area, the other created in and around the ball when it approaches the goal. The ball has coils embedded in three dimensions between the outer layer and the inflatable center. The interaction between the two magnetic fields is measured and analyzed, using techniques developed by the Fraunhofer researchers and, as with the other systems, wirelessly transmitted to the referee´s watch where the result whether the entire ball has crossed the line is displayed, along with a vibrating alert. Pellkofer stressed sophisticated encryption technologies guarantee the message cannot be accessed by anyone else.

Another approach

Cairos Technologies was among the first to develop a dedicated goal line technology system. The company, based in Karlsbad, Germany, worked in close collaboration with sporting goods manufacturer Adidas but stresses the system is suitable for use with other ball suppliers.

Its solution is similar to that offered by GoalRef; Cairos also uses a magnetic field to track a ball that has a sensor embedded in the middle of the ball bladder. However, the system depends on thin cables with electrical current running through them to be buried 15cm deep in the goal areas and behind the goal lines. Another cable is installed in the goal frame.

When the ball approaches the goal area, the signals from the magnetic field are transmitted to a mobile central processing unit normally located on the side-lines. As with all the other systems described, if the entire ball has crossed the line, an encrypted signal is sent within a second to the referee.

The company stresses that the way the sensor is suspended inside the ball ensures the sensor does not affect the ball´s characteristics, even when struck with great force.

 

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