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New sensor system, now being installed at a Nuremberg stadium

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 31 October, 2002  (New Product)
'And he shoots goaaal! or was it offside?' During a soccer match, a wrong decision can mean the difference between victory or defeat, angering the players and spectators. No matter what a slow-motion replay reveals, the referee's decision is final.
To enable him to make confident decisions, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has developed a sensor system, now being installed at a Nuremberg stadium. Towards the end of this year, the radio-based data-gathering and analysis equipment will be demonstrated to the public for the first time.

The system was jointly developed and constructed by radio engineers at the IIS, the company Cairos Technologies AG in Karlsruhe and sport scientists from Munich Technical University. Not only trainers are interested in reconstructing tactical maneuvers, the players' formations and the speed of the ball in flight: The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) also supports the introduction of the CAIROS system in time for the 2006 World Cup.

So far, scenes of matches have been recorded by video equipment. To evaluate the game, the computer has to be told how to interpret the images: Which player is which and what is the ball? It cannot compute play in three dimensions until this information has been entered manually and from several angles. This process is too slow for making fast decisions during the game itself and, also due to the high cost involved - is therefore only used to analyze crucial moments of play. 'Our new method eliminates these drawbacks,' explains Sylvia Couronné, project manager. 'We've placed small transmitters weighing just a few grams in the standard shin guards used by professional players. Each transmitter emits an individual microwave signal at a rate of several hundred times per second. A transmitter in the faster-moving ball emits a signal at four times that rate. Up to ten receiving antennas are positioned at intervals around the edge of the pitch.' The constant data flow is transmitted via fiber-optic cable to the central computer which then accurately calculates the positions of all transmitters to the centimeter via a mathematical analysis of the signal delay. The computer compares the delay times with fixed data of the soccer pitch and the goals. Before the referee even has time to blow the whistle, he receives an external signal and terms such as 'goal', 'out' and 'offside' are displayed on a special wristwatch. Now he can worry less about errors of judgment and take care of 'human problems', such as hand balls, fouls and dives.
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