Technology is heavily used in many major and international sports events, for instance 6.6 pounds makes all the difference between a gold and a silver medal in the 100-meter butterfly event back in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Badly designed uniforms can take out a whole team, like what happened to team USA in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics recently. In badminton, line-call technology is now used to assist line judges for when players challenge their ball is "in or out" calls.
The FIFA World Cup is also no stranger to technological innovation. The 1970 World Cup, for instance, was the first one to be broadcast in colour. For the first time, footballs fans get to watch matches live on TV from their living rooms and see their favorite teams’ uniforms in all its glorious colors. This upcoming 2014 will be no different when it comes to debuting new technologies in the world of football and international sports.
Let’s check out some of the highlights to look forward to.
Recommended Reading: 12 Things You Probably Don’t Know About World Cup 2014
1. Goal Line Technology
Goal line technology may well prove to be the most important, and notable, new technology to make its debut at the World Cup. It’s been used in European club football over the past year, most notably in the English Premier League, as well as in some smaller international competitions, but the World Cup is going to be the biggest footballing event to ever implement goal line technology.
After an extended period of trials and testing, FIFA appointed GoalControl GmbH as the official provider of goal line technology for the 2014 World Cup. Goal line technology aims to assist referees in making calls on whether the ball has crossed the goal line and whether a goal should be awarded.
It does this by using 14 high-speed cameras positioned around the stadium which track the position of the ball in 3D. When the ball crosses either goal line, the referee will be alerted via a wristwatch that’s synced to the GoalControl system.
You only need to look back at Geoff Hurst’s 1966 World Cup Final goal for England against West Germany and Frank Lampard’s controversially disallowed goal in the 2010 World Cup to see how goal line technology will help the sport and referee decisions.
2. 4K Coverage And Broadcast
4K has to be one of the more interesting developments in display technology recently. We’re all used to our HD 1080p displays, but 4K takes things way beyond that, with a display resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. And what better way to take advantage of this new high-resolution technology than to watch the World Cup in all its 4K glory?
Well, Sony and FIFA have joined forces to do just that: broadcast certain World Cup 2014 matches in glorious 4K resolution. However, they’re not going to be broadcasting the whole World Cup in 4K. Instead, Sony’s aim with this partnership is to more towards bringing this technology to the mainstream.
To this end, 3 World Cup 2014 matches will be shot and broadcasted in 4K: one Round of 16 match, one semi-final and of course, the final match itself. Match footage will also be included in the Official FIFA 2014 World Cup film, which will also be in 4K.
The film will be released after the conclusion of the World Cup. FIFA has also confirmed that World Cup fanzones in Brazil will also be showing some 4K content.
3. Vanishing Spray
If you’re an ardent football watcher, you’re probably familiar with this situation: when the attacking team is awarded a direct free kick near the opposition penalty area, the defensive wall is nearly always just a bit too close. This gives the defending team a slightly unfair advantage, triggering complaints from the attacking team and a delay as the referee tries to get the defensive wall to move back to the regulatory 10 yards’ distance.
Well, this might be a thing of the past at the 2014 World Cup, since referees will now be using vanishing spray to mark out the 10 yard distance.
When a free kick is awarded, the referee will walk 10 yards from the site of the offense and then spray a line on the pitch to indicate where the defensive wall should should stand. This line will disappear within a minute or two, so there’s no risk of the line overstaying its welcome or having any untoward effects on the match itself.
This vanishing spray technology has been used for a while in South American leagues, but this is the first time it’s being used in a major international tournament.
As always, the ball itself is also quite a technological marvel. In the previous World Cup, footballers complained furiously about the Jabulani ball being hard to control, behaving erratically whilst in the air. This, as you’d expect, is not something FIFA want to happen again at the 2014 World Cup.
Adidas claims that the Brazuca, the official match ball for the 2014 World Cup, will be different; in a press statement, they claim that the ball will meet and exceed all FIFA metrics.
According to Adidas, the Brazuca has been tested for more than 2.5 years and has gotten the approval of world-class footballers such as Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dani Alves and the one and only Zinedine Zidane.
This level of performance apparently has a lot to do with the Brazuca’s construction. The Brazuca is unique in that it’s made out of six interlocking urethane panels with thousands of little dimples – somewhat reminiscent of a basketball ball – that apparently improve the ball’s grip, stability and aerodynamics.
5. Mind-Controlled robotic Suit
Now, for something a little bit different. This isn’t going to be featured in any of the matches, and it won’t have anything to do with the broadcasts, but the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be the public’s first glimpse of an exciting new robotic exoskeleton that might just be the future replacement for the wheelchair.
On the opening day of the World Cup, a young Brazilian paraplegic will use this robotic suit to walk to the centre of the pitch and kick a ball, marking the opening of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton, built from lightweight alloys and powered by hydraulics, is the culmination of many years of work by the Walk Again project, an international group of scientists. The exoskeleton also comes with a cap which will pick up the user’s EEG signals, which will then be translated by a computer in the exoskeleton’s backpack into movement commands for the exoskeleton legs.
While it will probably take a while before a robotic exoskeleton actually replaces the wheelchair, it’s definitely an exciting development that will be great to see at the opening ceremony of the World Cup.