With the buzz around ICC World Cup 2015 now subsided, it is time for another cricketing spectacle — the Indian Premier League (IPL). The tournament kicks off tonight at the Eden Gardens, where defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders will take on the Mumbai Indians. With the tournament into its eighth iteration, here’s a look at eight technologies that have changed the way we watch matches from the comfort of our home.
This technology invented by former Buckinghamshire player Dr Paul Hawkins, answers the question, “What if?” What if the batsman wasn’t standing in front of the stumps, would the ball have hit the stumps? Using computer-generated graphics, the Hawk Eye answers just that.
It uses six cameras placed around the stadium and tracks the ball’s trajectory right from the bowler’s arms to the point of contact. The technology detects variations in bounce, spin, swing and seam and using the software, converts the path into a 3D image to show how the ball would have traveled.
It not only gives viewers a closer look at how a bowler can bring in variations in his deliveries, but also helps the TV umpire make decisions that are usually difficult for on-field umpires. The technology is also used in other sports, including Tennis, and is also used for brain surgery and missile tracking.
Cricket stadiums can be a noisy place, and hearing the slight edges can be near impossible. Umpires these days, however, have the Snickometer to depend upon. This tech is programmed to recognize the slightest of change in sound waves to pick out if the batsman had edged the ball.
The Snickometer uses a sensitive microphone placed on one of the stumps at both ends of the pitch and is connected to an oscilloscope that measures sound waves. The oscilloscope shows the sound picked up by the microphone as a sound wave and in conjunction with a camera, you can see if there was a change in the sound wave when the ball passed the bat or pads.
Hot Spot was first introduced during the 2006-2007 Ashes Test series, and proves handy for players and umpires alike. Unlike the Snickometer that depends on sound waves, Hot Spot depends on heat signatures. Umpires these days use both the technologies in conjunction to come to a decision.
For Hot Spot, infrared cameras are situated in the stadium to detect the slightest of changes in the ball’s heat signatures. The software then generates a negative image on which the point of contact is highlighted as a hot spot for a second or two.
Zing Wicket System
While the name may sound unfamiliar, these are actually the stumps and bails with LED lights that flash as soon as the ball hits them. This system was created by Bronte EcKermann, an Australian mechanical industrial designer, and manufactured by Zing International. Each bail costs as much as an iPhone, and the entire set for the match costs as much as $40,000 or about Rs 25 lakh!
In the case of a run out or a stump out, the batsman can be given an out only if the bails are completely dislodged, and the Zing Wicket System has made it easy for umpires. The bails and the stumps are fitted with a microprocessor and low voltage batteries, and the in-built sensors can detect the contact with a ball in 1/1000th of a second. The moment a ball touches the stumps or bails, the LED bulbs light up.
The umpire cam was introduced at last year’s IPL, wherein on-field umpires had a GoPro camera on top of their caps. These cameras essentially add a new dimension to the way we watch the action on the pitch.
The small camera clipped to the tip of the cap, is connected to a battery pack on the umpire’s back. There is a strap running across his shoulders which conceal the wires connecting the camera to the battery pack as well as a radio relay to transmit the videos back to the production control room.
Speaking of adding new dimensions to how we watch the match on television, the Spider Cam gives a completely new view of the action on the pitch. The camera operates on a Kevlar cable attached to four motorized winches positioned at each corner of the stadium. Using a gyro-stabilized carrier, a person can move the remote head with the camera inside into any position. The camera lens can pan, tilt, zoom or focus, according to the broadcaster company’s needs. The Kevlar cables also have fiber optic cables, which carry the input from the camera back to the production room.
Broadcasters have been using slow motion technology to show replays since 2005. These super slow motion cameras situated around the stadium record images at 500 frames per second (fps) compared to normal cameras that record images at 24 fps. This technology has been used to show replays to analyze run outs or stumpings.
There is no denying the rush when you see Mitchell Johnson charging in to bowl a delivery that is not only meant to take the batsman’s wicket, but also aimed at hurting him. But what heightens that rush is knowing at what speed the ball left Johnson’s hands. This is where the Speed Gun comes into play.
First introduced in Tennis, this machine uses a Doppler radar to determine the speed of the ball leaving the bowler’s hands. The gun is located near the sight-screen and using microwave technology, relays a beam across the pitch that detects movements. By calculating the speed of the movement, the gun determines the speed of the ball.