Thursday, July 15, 2010

World cup and technology

I was watching a game Netherlands against Uruguay in my friend’s house in Rotterdam when I was wondering how it would like the images if we put a camera inside the ball. As soon as I told this idea to my friends they laugh. Well… it is not a very useful thought but it made me think how technology is used in the football and how it could improve.

For the first time ever FIFA excuse itself for the mistakes of the judges and considered using technology to avoid such mistakes. However it did not say witch kind of technology they were talking about: cameras? Sensors? Microphones?

This also brings another question: How people inside the football field will deal with these new inputs? Technology could disturb instead of help?

During the competition were many complaining about the Jabulani ball. Adidas spent lots of money and research in wind tunnels and robots to test the new ball and afterwards the players were very unhappy with the result. The Brazilian goalkeeper Julio César compared it to a ball you could buy at a “grocery store”. David James of England said it is “dreadful.” It seems that in this case the technology used to develop Jabulani was not so efficient.

Intrigued with this question I start to look for projects that involve football and technology and I found a nice project that Senselab MIT [1] developed together with the Italian soccer team A. C. Milan. In this project the researchers from MIT tracked the movement of the players during a match in the field in order to analyse their movements and maybe improve their training. What they want is to identify and develop new real-time tracking systems and to interpret from a strategic point of view the data they provide. Many problems were found on the project but it points, in my opinion, a way that technology could be used in football.

Bringing the discussion a bit closer to fashion I was wondering it could be effective the use of sensors embedded on the players clothe. Maybe the sensors could catch information that helps to decide if a player committed a fault or not. And besides of the sensor in the players’ cloths the judge would need a “gadget” to collect and present this information in a useful way. Otherwise it is an over information witch could be a disinformation. Would be the development of such technology a good path to follow? Maybe yes. Maybe it is just too much and the old and traditional system is enough. All this technology would take part of the magic of football out? Maybe.

Technology is not always good. Going back to the South Africa world cup the U. S. goalie Mr. Hahnemann said during a news conference that technology is not everything. “ Scientists came up with the atom bomb, doesn’t mean we should have invented it.” Definitively he has a point.


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