TECHNOLOGY IN SPORTS
HOW DOES IT HELP THE SPORTS PROFESSIONALS
Soccer goal line technology
There has been a need for goal line technology in soccer, particularly as TV replays are showing in retrospect wrong decision by the referee. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has laid down four criteria that they want to see in goal-line systems:
- The technology should only apply to goal-line decisions.
- The system must be 100% accurate.
- The signal sent to the referee must be instantaneous.
- The signals is only communicated to the match officials.
Smartball jointly developed by German companies which is Cairos Technology, Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits and Adidas Clothing and Shoe companies. The companies’ technology uses a network of receivers around the field designed to track the ball’s precise position in real time – including exactly when it has fully passed the goal line. That information would be relayed in less than a second to a watch-like device worn by the referee. However, this system has had its setbacks, and another system using, The Hawk-Eye, is being looked at.
Hawk Eye Technology
Hawk-Eye is the name of a computer and camera system which traces a ball’s trajectory. It is being used in international cricket and tennis, and many other sports are also looking at making use of the technology. The system is also being tried in soccer. The Premier League of Football in the UK has agreed to the introduction of goal-line sensors after being given approval by football’s rule-makers. The system being developed by the UK Company Hawk-Eye, would give a definitive decision on whether the ball had crossed the line. The Hawk-Eye uses the camera taking 600 frames a second on the goal-line. The information is analysed by computer and sent to the refree’s headset or a device on his wrist.
Nanotech in Sports Equipment
Nanotechnology—engineering on a scale of individual atoms – is a way to make new materials, or to improve properties of existing materials. Its uses range from medical devices to car paint. And in the past, any shift in materials science has eventually altered sports.
Few decades ago, tennis racket were made of wood. Wilson figured out how to make a metal racket and in 1967 introduced the breakthrough T2000. By 1980, high-end rackets were made of graphite. As the materials got stiffer and lighter, the game began to favour speed and power serves.
Sometime in 2005, start-up company NanoDynamics plans to sell a nanotech golf ball that promises to dramatically reduce hooks and slices for even the most frustrated of weekend golfers. NanoDynamics say it’s figured out how to alter the materials in a golf ball at the molecular level so the weight inside shifts less as the ball spins. The less it shifts, the straighter even a badly hit ball will go.
A Japanese company makes a bowling ball that supposedly won’t get surface nicks yet sticks to the centre of the lane the same as traditional balls. Wilson uses nanotechnology to make tennis balls that deflate less quickly, and several companies are working on nanotech golf clubs. A French company makes a nano-engineered tennis racket.
Nanosys, one of the most successful nanotech companies, has come up with a nano-engineered coating far slicker than Teflon. Water literally bounces off it. Today, Nanosys is working only on industrial uses for the coating. But if the coating could be made to cover one of those all-body swimsuits, a swimmer might practically skim across the pool.
There hasn’t yet been a flood of nanotech sports products because the technology is still expensive and difficult. Plus, sports marketers are still trying to figure out how to pitch nanotech products and how much demand there will be from sports enthusiasts.
“Nanotech’s now just not sexy enough,” says Wilson’s Thurman. A nanotech club or racket probably wouldn’t look much different from ones made of graphite. “Going from a wood racket to metal—that’s sexy,” Thurman adds. “Visible technology is the key in sporting goods.”
The size of the nanotech sports product market so far is negligible – so small that none of the better-known nanotech watchers have bothered to measure it. Nanotech in general is just emerging as an industrial force. In 2004, $13 billion worth of products will incorporate nanotechnology less than 0.1% of global output, according to the NanoBusiness Alliance trade group. But by 2014, that figure is expected to rise to $2.6 trillion, or 15% of that year’s manufacturing output.
Some sports governing bodies. Which in the past have restricted some new technologies because of concerns about how the sports and its records might be altered. For instance, Major League Baseball doesn’t allow aluminum bats.
Some tennis experts, such as former star John McEnroe, argue that modern rackets have ruined the game by making men’s serves almost impossible to return.
Yet some nanotech sports equipment have poked into market such as in:
- Golf: Wilson is using a nano-composite material to replace the titanium crown on the Wilson Staff Driver. That makes the top part of the driver lighter, lowering the centre of gravity – which helps the golfer achieve more power and accuracy, Wilson says. The company is also using nanotech to strengthen golf shafts, but, “The problem is, it’s extremely expensive to manufacture nanotech shafts,” Thurman says.
AccuFlex, which makes only shafts, in August introduced its Evolution nanotech golf club shaft.
But the company says the balls make such a difference – and, for instance, result is fewer lost balls – that golfers would pay the steep price.
- Tennis: Wilson earlier this month introduced its nCode racket, which uses nanotubes. French company Babolat is selling a $180 nano-racket that it claims is five times stiffer.
Wilson and New Jersey-based InMat say they’ve used nanotech to improve the tennis ball. Based on research at Cornell University, InMat’s technology forces 1-micron balls of butyl rubber to mix and bond with clay particles. It creates a coating that’s flexible but nearly airtight. That means tennis balls can keep their bounce longer once the can is opened.
- Biking: Easton Sports and Zyvex are working together to put carbon nanotubes into bicycle parts. So far, they have used them only in handlebars, making tehm stronger and lighter. Ten material, says Zyvex CEO Von Her, “ is very difficult to process.” But it can shave 15% to 20% off the weight – a big deal to a pro bike racer.
- Bowling: Japanese company Nanodesu (which, translated, means “It’s nano!” ) is using a nanotech material called fullerenes as a super-hard coating on bowling balls. The company says it prevents chipping and cracking but performs like a typical polyurethane ball.
Video: An example of the Hawk-Eye system