Placing Eye of the Tiger Off to the Side: Hawk-Eye Closes World Cup Deal with FIFA

In an era of broadening media coverage, increasing gambling participation, and decreasing patience, players and fans are pressing unprecedented expectations onto sporting officials. Replay review has led to more accurate decisions but at a price of lengthier games. Therein lies the unsolved paradox of accurate calls within a short time-frame, absent substantial delays. Hawk-Eye Innovations, a developer of broadcast enhancing and sports officiating technologies, offers numerous applications that revolutionize the respective landscapes. According to Hawk-Eye, its “optical tracking, vision-processing, video review and creative graphic technologies make sport fairer, safer, more engaging and better informed.”

Since Sony acquired the company in 2011, Hawk-Eye has firmly established its presence in the sports analytics industry, growing its portfolio to working relationships with twenty-three of the top twenty-five sports leagues. Recently, Hawk-Eye entered into an agreement with FIFA to implement its limb-tracking technology to streamline reviews of offside calls at the World Cup in Qatar later this year. The Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) uses an array of optical tracking cameras to track twenty-nine points on each player’s body, in addition to an inertial sensor embedded in the match ball.  SAOT offers a real-time solution to officiating in which an artificial intelligence module monitors and flags any player that is offsides.

SAOT aims to mimic the improved accuracy of Hawk-Eye’s goal-line technology that was adopted at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2012.  In addition to improved accuracy, FIFA anticipates that SAOT will reduce the duration of a review from an average of 70 seconds to an average of 20 seconds. With extensive trials at several FIFA-sanctioned tournaments and university research departments, SAOT is a proven commodity well-prepared for its FIFA debut before a global audience.