HANOVER, Germany--Today, baseball is the statistician's playground, but telematics technology that tracks players and the ball could bring the same numeric precision to soccer as well.
At the CeBIT trade show here, the Fraunhofer Institute is showing technology that attaches chips with radio transmitters to soccer players and the ball. A collection of 12 receivers around a stadium measures the players' position 200 times a second and the ball's position 2,000 times a second, said Ingmar Bretz, a project leader.
"You can distinguish between good and bad players in real time," he said, by gauging how fast they're running, how far they've run, how much time they're in possession of the ball. It's geared not just for the audience but also for trainers, he added.
Players wear a small sensor in a plastic case; the ball's sensor is mounted internally.
Fraunhofer is teasing its real-time location system (RTLS) at the Nuremburg stadium, he said.
The technology calculates location from the time it takes for radio signals to travel from the transmitters to the detectors--like GPS in reverse. Its precision is a few centimeters horizontally and a few tens of centimeters vertically.
A separate but related technology might make more of a difference to fans frustrated by bad calls: a detector to definitively say whether a ball has crossed the goal line.
That technology is called GoalRef. FIFA, the international body overseeing much of the professional soccer realm, said Saturday it's begun phase-two testing of GoalRef, according to Fraunhofer.