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Score! Goal Line Technology Comes to the World Cup

The World Cup, which this time around is coming to Brazil, will be underway by mid-June.

Most of the buzz around it has been the question of whether Brazil will be ready.

What’s been getting less buzz is the technology that will be in place. For the first time, goal-line technology will be used to clarify those situations where goals are too close to call – but have, historically, been called anyway.

Everybody isn’t happy about the use of goal-line technology. Many are concerned that this will lead to what is a fluid game turning into a stop-start game where every play is subject to review.  I’m not going to argue that the NFL doesn’t put a stop-start game on the field, but they do manage the review process by limiting challenges, and making unsuccessful challenges bear a penalty. (There’s also some fear that using the technology will take all the fun out of post-game rehashes and arguments.)

Anyway, I’m more interested in the technology than the politics.

The system that will be used is from GoalControl-4D, a German company which beat out Hawk-Eye Innovations, which had technology that was used last season in the English Premiere League. Like Hawk-Eye:

GoalControl-4D also deploys 14 high speed cameras strategically located around the stadium roof or galleys and directed at the goals. They are connected to a powerful image processing computer system that tracks the movement of all objects on the pitch and filters out the players, referee, and any other objects save the ball. The system knows its three-dimensional x-, y-, and z- position to within a few millimeters in the coordinate system of the pitch. Again, when the ball passes the goal, the system instantly sends an encrypted signal to the officials’ specially modified wristwatches. (Source: EE Times)

Security, not surprisingly, is a big deal. Easy to imagine the nightmare scenarios if the system got hacked.

The GoalControl-4D is expected to cost $260,000 per stadium to install, and $3,000 per match to operate. Interestingly, and perhaps controversially, he added, “an important fact to point out is that our transmission code of the sender is extremely secure and has a frequently changing encrypted code. Contrary to our British competitor, we are not using the Wi-Fi/LAN frequency band of 2.4GHz. This frequency bears many disadvantages and security risks regarding the system. Just think how many access points and smartphones are in the stadiums during the matches which are all sending on the 2.4GHz frequency.”

Anyway, it will be interesting to see if there are any controversies settled – or started – by the deployment of the goal-line technology.