The Patents of Goal Line Technology

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Controversy erupted this weekend in the World Cup when England kicked the ball over the goal line in what anyone with a pair of eyes would consider a goal. Had the referees noticed the ball entering the net, England would have tied their match with Germany 2-2, but instead they lost 4-1. Who could say with confidence that the tenor and therefore outcome of the game wouldn’t have changed if England would have tied the game? Regardless of all this, we must realize that it is technologically within our grasp to solve this problem. Today I’ll show you a couple of patents I found using esp@cenet that describe technology that could have fixed this mess in under a minute.

Aptly named “Hawk-Eye” technology and camera installations are used in professional tennis to assist umpiring decisions and occasionally in cricket and snooker matches for added value in television replays. You may have seen this technology while watching the ongoing Wimbledon tournament, as players can challenge close calls and have the computer assisted Hawk-Eye system pick out the exact location of the ball as it touched down. Considering that serves can be hit up to 150 miles per hour, there’s a reasonable assumption that umpires will sometimes err. The Hawk-Eye system puts a check and balance on the proceedings, makes the contest fairer, and has generally been well received by the players. The same technology could be implemented for football/soccer matches at costs not much more than a single grain of sand in the beach of the multi-billion dollar World Cup.

There are several patents on “Hawk-Eye” related technology, but this patent in 2001 for “VIDEO PROCESSOR SYSTEMS FOR BALL TRACKING IN BALL GAMES” shows an early version of the system. Tracking objects in 3D space is a relatively simple solution that most people can understand. Unfortunately, the football governing body in charge of implementing such technology, FIFA, has already shunned Hawk-Eye for complicated reasons that seem to fly in the face of fairness.

Another promising goal-detection technology developed by Cairos Technologies uses magnetic fields and in-ball sensors to accomplish the task. This slightly more complicated system proffers a higher degree of reliability at the cost of being somewhat obtuse to the normal fan. On the other hand, Cairos, who filed the patent document entitled “MOVEMENT RANGE FOR A MOBILE OBJECT, AND EVALUATION UNIT FOR DETERMINING A POSITION OF A MOBILE OBJECT” is a German company…(insert stupid conspiracy theory here).

The bottom line is that while we can argue for days about what should happen, FIFA isn’t willing to take a look at this technology and change its mind. Just today they admitted their “mistake” from yesterday…showing the replay of a blown call in the stadium while the game was taking place!

Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.

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Patent Analysis from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla.

3 Responses

  1. Thank for posting this! I posted here also a little poll: http://ipestonia.ning.com/profiles/blogs/new-poll-does-football-need
    Does football need technology? Yes or no? You are welcome to vote :)

  2. I think Sepp Blatter saw our post: Blatter apologizes to England, Mexico for errors

    “FIFA boss says soccer world body will ‘reopen the file’ on video technology “

  3. […] the face of the planet, would have a good grumble about those goals. Even my cousin Stevie had a look at goal-line technology. On to the patent application mistakes that raise my […]

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