Technology with an edge

I happen to think that, while the technology still needs work, the idea of a football with a transmitter installed in it to make tracking the position and orientation of the ball more accurate for measurement is a good one.  Is it one of those newfangled developments that will meet resistance from the old guard?  Sure.  But I bet that the technology was developed via funding from Disney will make it easier to overcome that resistance.

The engineers developed this using funding from Disney Research. Not coincidentally, Disney owns ESPN. The researchers initially envisioned this simply as a way to let TV viewers more easily see the ball at home, like the NHL’s infamous glowing puck experiment during the 90’s.

You don’t say no to ESPN easily.



Filed under Science Marches Onward

18 responses to “Technology with an edge

  1. JN

    I’ve always wondered why there aren’t two cameras at each goal line, one on each side of the field. I wouldn’t call that cutting edge, just common sense. How many times have they made a judgement call on a play where a guy is running down the field based on the view from a moving camera that’s ~6 yds behind the ball carrier (e.g. Honey Badger in the 11 SECCG)? Billions of dollars are thrown around per Saturday in the fall, but no one is willing to pony up for four additional cameras in most division 1 stadiums. I have to assume it’s a money thing b/c the idea itself isn’t exactly rocket science.


  2. Chuck

    Haven’t they had essentially the same thing at the finish line at horse tracks forever?


    • AthensHomerDawg

      ? Hmmm .
      Horse races in the US usually have 14 starters and they are all racing in the same direction. Imagine a horse race with two sets of horses starting in opposite directions on the same track and ending at the same finish line. Then use the cameras to pick out which horse crossed first. YIKES!


  3. Cousin Eddie

    The “glowing” football would suck.
    But knowing the exact position of the football during a pile or on a crucial spot on 3rd or 4th down would be nice. Some type of GPS that worked with the down and distance markers and especially goal line would be nice. Anything to remove the ref from using judgment on important spots would be nice.


  4. Macallanlover

    Have been waiting for this relatively simple technology to arrive and solve what has long been a weakness in the game. Put it on every first down market and the goal lines at a minimum. Often thought there was a way to put “strike zone” over the plate and adjusted for each better in baseball too that would “trigger” anytime ball passed through it. Think of all the bad calls over time that could have made a huge difference. As an old timer, I just want the calls right and feel technology that gives us that is welcome.


    • Lrgk9

      We win at least one previous GT game if this was in place.

      Personally like it because like instant replay, it brings some accountability into place for the refs.


    • Cojones

      I think that many have thought about this for years. It’s use for 4th down would be welcomed by all. What will be interesting is the signal going off while in a pileup and it stops when the ball is spotted. Maybe we should have indicators in unis that attest to the ball being downed as a signal goes off for more accurate spots. Zebras would continue to be needed to use manual eye spots when electronics go wrong, go wrong, go wrong.

      Certainly a need exists when the td plane is broken before the ball and player are pushed back.


  5. Ben

    We should just outsource all research to Disney.


  6. AthensHomerDawg

    I’ve often wondered if the refs are truly cheaters or we if loyal fans allow our imaginations to take us too far afield into conspiracy theories. I’ve enjoyed watching a few games with a friend in his man cave. His entertainment system while not funded by Disney is quite the hi-tech hybrid between a workstation computer and widescreen entertainment. I’m always amazed by his innovations. I love technology. Having sons later in life can keep you involved in things you might otherwise lose interest in. Point being, WILL knowing where the ball is will keep refs from moving it around to give an advantage to another team? Games will still be vulnerable to poor calls. Bennett was down before his fumble. Bluto got that right without all the hardware we employed. So how do you take the Penn Wagers Effect out of the game? Wonder if Vegas has a metric to deal with the ref’s conferring most favorite status on football teams?


    Short answer would be: Not if it happens to Georgia.


    • Macallanlover

      I have never subscribed, in general, to the conspiracy theory about refs. Have there been some vindictive calls in football? Absolutely, and Penn Wagers is a great example of that. The guy has publicly stated that he is bothered by the 2007 UGA/FU game and I think that affects his judgment about UGA, like the penalty against Richt in Auburn last year. It may even influence his crew, these guys talk at dinner, meetings, etc.

      I think most of the horrible calls are just that, blown calls in a fast moving sport. The most flagrant, non-judgment call I can remember was the spot of a 1st down at the goal line against us at Oklahoma State. They missed the spot by more than a yard, and replay showed it. In a pretty visible situation, I don’t think you could have made that bad a spot unless it was deliberate. But for the most part it is incompetency, or honest mistakes, imo.

      I umpired baseball many years ago and I can tell you there were hundreds of “coin flip” calls with action at high speed, no doubt many of those would have been blown up by replay or technology.


  7. uglydawg

    I recall watching the Braves get screwed in the playoffs years ago…a game in which a umpire got carried away and called everything a particular young pitcher threw a strike…hell, if he made a pickoff throw to first base, he called it a strike. I thought at the time that there should be an easy high-tech fix. The technology to do all of this stuff is availabe and not expensive.
    If each baseball players height was entered into a data base, balls and stikes could be called on that player by technical devices. Even simple cameras mounted to show if the ball was low or high..determined by an electronic reader…and a camera mounted overhead…directly over the home plate to determine inside-outside-etc…not hard to do at all.
    We’ve already taken the virginity of the tradition that officials are not to be questioned (replay reviewed decisiins) so what’s one more slice off of that loaf of bread?
    I trust technology a whole lot more than I trust Penn Wagers.


    • Macallanlover

      I haven’t watched a baseball game in over 5 years, couldn’t name you two players on the Braves’ roster (or any other team for that matter), but I will never forget that umpire in the playoff game in Miami. The commissioner should have had him removed during the game and started over, or given the ticket money back and re-started the next day. Wasn’t a conspiracy but either the fix was in, or it was a revenge fuck.


      • 81Dog

        wasn’t that the immortal Eric Gregg pretending to be the ump? I believe he was dismissed when the umps overplayed their labor negotiation and went on strike, and was never rehired. Also, I think he died a few years ago. I’m sure he was a nice person, but he was a bad umpire.

        Livan Hernandez should have sent EG a nice fruit basket after he signed his mega free agent deal after that season.


        • uglydawg

          Yeah…that’s the same incident Mac and 81. I’ve always had my personal theories as to what was going on, but having no proof I’ll keep them stowed. Anyway the point is that the Braves would have gotten an honest and fair shake with an electronic ump.