How is technology acing the centre court?


Now that Wimbledon is in full swing, the news is being dominated with information such as area and travel updates, match details and which celebrities have attended. However, few of us will stop to consider what technology is working behind the scenes to provide viewers with up-to-the-second knowledge, as well as helping the players and umpires involved in the matches.

One billion people across the world are expected to tune in to watch the sport while the tournament website will host approximately 63.8 million visitors as the games are going on. So how do you manage all this data? As it turns out, a group of analysts (who are all competent tennis players themselves) sit below the centre court and monitor the games on each of the 19 courts as well as the social media posts. This data is then combined and sent directly to the broadcasters for them to use in their live transmissions.

How does this technology affect the game? Thanks to the International Tennis Association, a new challenge system has been introduced. If Andy Murray hits the ball beyond the baseline but is adamant it was in, he can contest these close line calls and force the umpire to use a ball-tracking technology which is designed to minimise human error. This system uses 2D cameras which captures the flight path of the ball and maps out a digitally modelled version of the court. The only sticking point is that the Wimbledon competitors aren’t allowed to ask an unlimited amount of times if they’ve received three incorrect challenges.

It’s not only hit accuracy that is revolutionising tennis – electric impulses travel through the net to inform the official whether the ball clipped the net during a serve.

The way sports is played and how information is provided to the media is not the only way technology has transformed the games – it’s also changed how people watch it. A prime example is BT Sport. The broadcaster has selected real-time 3D graphics solutions experts, RT Software to provide augmented reality graphics for the analysis of the UEFA Champions and Europa League shows. When a replay of a goal is being shown, RT Software can highlight the player so the viewers know where to look.

Overall, a lot of technology goes into the coverage of a sport. Whether it’s through radio, TV or online, data is being collected and analysed to provide people with relevant information. Who knows, with technology developing at such a rapid rate this could create the couch potato who has the knowledge of a sports expert.