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It's a goal! - Stay tuned to your PC and you need never miss a match again

点击量:   时间:2017-11-02 04:01:03

By Paul Marks LIVE broadcasts of football matches over the Internet are now possible, thanks to a technique that uses radar to keep track of the players. But the matches will not look like conventional television. Each will be a three-dimensional computer animation, with every player represented by a computerised figure in team colours who will run about the pitch exactly as the real player does. The player’s gestures, expression and posture will not be represented. The European Football Championships, to be held in Belgium and Holland in 2000, could be the first to use the Israeli-developed system. “Real-time tracking of players and the ball using microwave and video-processing technologies means we should be able to have live Internet matches broadcast when games are not broadcast on TV,” says Miky Tamir, vice-president of Orad Hi Tec Systems, an Israeli electronics company. The system, called Sportrack, uses a transponder about half the size of a credit card sewn into the shirt of every player and official. There will also be one inside the ball. The transponder receives microwave radiation from a transmitter a few dozen metres from the pitch and transmits it to two receivers, allowing a computer to calculate the transponder’s position. Since each player’s tag is unique and shifts the frequency of the microwaves by a particular amount, the computer knows where everyone is on the field at all times. The system creates a 3D model of the players for transmission over the Internet. Sportrack also lends itself to creating action replays from different camera angles. Currently, its commentators can only rotate camera angles within a 3D still frame. Alternatively, a short animation can be laboriously produced some time after the event. But online spectators will eventually be able to choose the referee’s view of a controversial decision, or the views that different players had. “We’ve already done our first feasibility test and it works perfectly,” claims Tamir, who expects to market the system in mid-1999. The 3D mimicry of the action requires less bandwidth than transmitting TV pictures, making it more suitable for webcasting. But how rights to Net sports broadcasts will be separated from TV rights is unknown. “This technology sounds like it will herald a field day for the Premier League’s lawyers,” says one observer, who did not want to be named. But soccer’s ruling body may need some convincing over the use of the transponder in the ball. “Anything that affects the balance of the ball, its appearance or how it moves in the air could be a worry,” says Steve Double, a spokesman for the Football Association, the game’s governing body in Britain. And Andreas Herren, of FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, says that the laws of the game would have to be changed for players to wear tags. “Knowing where a player is exactly at any time would prompt tons of protests. Too much science can be detrimental to the game sometimes,” says Herren. The exposure of players and officials to microwave emissions for 90 minutes will also be a concern. Orad believes the system is safe. Yair Granot, a research engineer at Orad in Tel Aviv, says that the transmitter’s 10-milliwatt power output is tiny compared with the 700 milliwatts of cellphones. “And you place the cellphone right next to your ear and not 100 metres or so from your body, like Sportrack’s transmitter,” he says. The safety of football grounds is overseen by local authorities. But they take advice on electromagnetic radiation from the National Radiological Protection Board. Mike Clarke, a spokesman for the board, says that even though Orad’s radar signal is low power,