Spirited competition and fierce athleticism have always been hallmarks of the sports realm. Given the intense nature of the world’s top sporting events, and the level of training that goes into preparing for them, finding new ways to improve the accuracy of scoring and tracking systems has been an important focus in recent years.
The push to incorporate more modern technology in sports—from the events themselves to the fan experience—is changing the game in a lot of fascinating ways. Close calls are inevitable in many sporting activities, but the latest sports tech is removing the potential for human error from the equation.
Here’s a look at five popular sports and how cutting edge tech is ensuring the right decisions are being made when it comes to declaring a victor among the many skilled athletes competing for glory.
Most of the time, mixing technology and water leads to disastrous results, but the world of swimming has benefited a lot from the latest computing innovations on the competitive front. The addition of electronic lap counters situated at the bottom of swimming pools are giving athletes a new way to gauge their performance in major competitions, but other high tech tools are making it easier for judges, too. From starting blocks that measure swimmers’ reaction times to prevent false starts to pressure sensitive touch plates at the finish, sorting out the winners in a tight spot is a lot more straightforward than it once was.
When you have dozens of runners bolting in a pack towards the finish line, the difference between victory and defeat can often be measured in milliseconds. Thankfully, that’s what the latest ultra-sensitive timing tech allows for. Accuracy is key in these pressure cooker situations where an eyeball simply won’t do. In modern foot races, pressure sensitive starting blocks help keep athletes honest and electronic starting pistols hold down double duty for starting the counter clock and signaling runners. At the finish line, a series of precise cameras, lasers and timers combine to take the guesswork out of close finishes.
Timing can be a little trickier in events like cycling, where racers are traveling at great speeds and long distances. The modern-day solution? Radio frequency identification technology. RFID chips attached to the fork of a biker’s front tire serve as a means to track their location throughout a race and to deliver an accurate reading of the exact moment they cross the finish line.
Dispute resolution can be especially contentious in team sports, though the addition of video technology on the court in recent years has had an interesting impact on how teams interact in volleyball. When a close call sparks a heated debate, coaches can call for video verification to get an accurate ruling on a play thanks to the help of a dozen-camera system that’s offering a way to instantly replay a shot from all possible angles to best determine an accurate result.
Soccer (or football, if you’re across the pond) is one of the latest sports to get the high tech treatment to help improve the accuracy of calls on the field. Goal-line technology uses a variety of automated sensors and cameras to track the location of the ball in its relation to the goal lines at all times. While a variation on this system has existed since the late 90s, it’s been used more widely in the past few years.
As these technologies continue to evolve, there’s a growing need for skilled workers to aid in their development and implementation. From programmers and engineers to team leaders and beyond, now is a great time to pursue a career in helping to craft the future of sports tech.
Want to learn more about sports technology?
Check out our infographic, “Digital Innovation and Technology in Sports,” to find out how the world of tech is changing the way athletes and fans alike participate in today’s hottest athletic events.