From Thermography to VAR: Technology applied to sport
In the recent years, technological advances are making its way in sports world. However, it should be asked in what measurement that advances are simply used at the service of the television spectacle or, otherwise, if its use in order to improve sport in essence is fully extended, with implementations and objectives obviously differents depending on the sport they are introduced.
This kind of technology has been turned into a fundamental pillar in sports industry, being pioneer in its use in many ways until reaching a point at which nowadays it’s really hard to think some sports without the presence of this tools.
Therefore, we bring you a summary of some of these technologies that have managed to improve the world of sports formation and performance.
Thermography applied to sport is a technology that allows to evaluate the superficial temperature of athletes in a particular moment. This technology has its origin in the National Institute of Physical Education (INEF) of Madrid and it’s used by many different elite clubs from several sports disciplines.
ThermoHuman is a company specialized in thermography applied to physical activity that has stirred up the field of injury preventions in sport. It’s a software that analyses with artificial vision human thermic images in order to detect asymmetries in the body temperature, which can help to prevent possible muscle fatigues and injuries. Through a detailed exam of the users’ physical condition, a specific training can be planned for each user.
In conclusion, this system helps to prevent injuries by means of a previous analysis. The applications of infrared thermography in sports science, medicine and physiotherapy includes both injuries tracking and prevention, the initial assessment and the physical load measurement.
Sports disciplines such diverse as tennis, American football, baseball, cricket and motor sports, among others, have open the door to the improve of its competitions through the different applications of this technological advance.
2. Tracking systems
Other technologies that have sharply developed in the recent years in sport are the tracking and positioning systems. These tools offer an invaluable information to team sports like football, basketball or indoor football, among others. They help the coaching staff to go in depth in the knowledge of its players and to make decisions, not only during a competition, but also during training and rest cycles
But these positioning systems are not only used by clubs of the aforementioned sports. In Spain we can find the example of the Referees Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) that uses this technology, as it is shown in the following tweet, in order to improve its referees’ performance.
Originally, these systems were mainly based in the use of GPS signals, what restricted its usefulness to outdoor sports. However, the development of new models based on Wi-Fi or radiofrequency signals has allows this technology to introduce itself in indoor sports, having been currently positioned as one of the most used tools in both professional and amateur sport.
Kinexon is the developer company of a radiofrequency positioning system. Its main objective is to provide a tool aimed to coaching staffs for analyzing the performance and strategy of their team.
Kinexon offers an integral training, performance, injury prevention, rehabilitation, player’s development, match analyses and technical information control through a series of measures like distance, speed, jumps or strength, among others, with an accuracy of less than 10 centimeters. What is more, its system can be used in both outdoor and indoor training facilities.
3. Heart rate and variability monitoring systems
Physiological variables such as heart rate have been used since long time ago to discover some aspects of the internal performance of the athletes. Although at the beginning the evaluating tools were expensive and unaffordable in lots of cases, the development of new technologies has popularized the use of monitoring tools like wrist-based activity trackers, strap heart rate monitors or holter monitors.
These systems are capable of monitoring internal aspects such as heart rate and variability, measures useful not only during the sport activity but also in the daily life. This technology, of which accuracy can significantly vary between the aforementioned options, provides an invaluable information about sports performance, recovery after an effort, rest quality or even the stress level experienced for the users.
4. Video Systems
Video solutions are more and more present in sport. At a commercial and spectacle level, the incorporation of minicameras adhered to the athletes, to the vehicles or in key locations is a resource that allows the audience to enjoy sport from an original and more attractive point of view. Cycling, football, swimming or motor sports like motorcycling are good examples of this idea, contributing to a more interactive relationship between audience and sport.
But going beyond its commercial interest, this technology also represents an invaluable resource at an internal level, because it facilitates the evolution of sport, its rules and the way we understand it. In this way, in the last years several tools based on video technology have been appearing, modifying our sports conception and offering an added value through the development of new technologies.
Azor, our instant replay multicamera system, is a perfect example of this idea. Thanks to this technology, a huge amount of national and international federations have improved their referees’ formation. But there are other tools, like the mentioned below.
This technology has meant a great help for referees who will avoid players’ complaints and will confirm without doubts If a play has ended in goal.
This system is based on placing some high-definition cameras in the upper part of the stadiums and their 3D images will serve to virtually recreate the positioning of the ball and, in this way, obtain a verdict if the ball has or has not crossed the goal line. In less than a second, the match official will receive a vibration signal in its clock in case the play has ended in goal.
Tennis judge calling system, commonly known as “Hawkeye”, is based on the same technology. It’s been applied since 2006 in the main tournaments of the world, in addition to other sports like cricket.
VAR (Video Assistant Replay)
This systems consists in a series of cameras which images are evaluated in the Video Operation Room (VOR), where a referee or referees in charge of VAR review the decisions made by the match official, who will always have the last word about the reviewed play.
Although in future posts we will talk in depth about this technology, this video perfectly summarizes in what moments VAR can review if a decision made by a referee has been right or wrong.