Written by Hayley Bromfield • Published 31st July 2018 • 2 minute read

Hawk-Eye is probably one of the most important innovations in professional sport. It has revolutionised over 20 professional sports and every year covers 7,200 games and events across 450 stadiums in over 65 countries.

Hawk-Eye the system that analyses situations quickly with a high degree of accuracy using a camera array and high-speed monitoring software. The technology is making cricket fairer and less prone to adjudicating howlers as decisions can be reviewed and overturned if needs be. It has also become a fan favourite, both in the ground and at home, for the great visual technology and added trepidation.

Since only being used in a simple format for cricket broadcasting, Hawk-Eye has been developed to become one of the most sophisticated vision processing technologies in sport. The system uses vision processing technology which is then combined with an intelligent IT-based video replay and distribution software. This is then put through the creative graphics platform making the visually thrilling format we know and love.

The technology works by installing a number of cameras around the field tracking the ball. Hawk-Eye uses these cameras to tell you what is going to happen rather than what has already happened. The system triangulates information of where the ball is from each calibrated camera. This process is repeated frame by frame to produce a single trajectory. The computer does all the work and no human interaction is required. The measurements are accurate to within 3.9mm and the video is produced in under 10 seconds making it incredibly fast and accurate.

Cricket broadcasting is the most widespread use of Hawk-Eye and it is primarily used to analyse leg before wicket (LBW) decisions. It does this by tracking the ball and then projecting the likely path of the ball to see if it would have hit the stumps had the batsman’s leg not got in the way. In all three cases, marginal calls result in the on-field call being maintained.

It is also able to be used as a broadcasting and coaching aid as the systems can show the delivery patterns of a bowler such as their line, length, swing and turn. It is also a benefit to the batsmen as a record can be produced of where a batsman scores most of his/her runs. This is a valuable insight for County and International players in creating strategies for matches

There have been some high-profile mistakes by the software. Most notably in a match between Australia and South Africa when AB De Villiers was bowled but the Hawk-Eye replay predicting the ball went over the stumps by some distance. On this incident, the founder and CEO of Hawk-Eye, Dr Paul Hawkins, said ‘the technology has only made four inaccurate rulings since an upgraded version of the technology was introduced eight years ago’.

Hawk-Eye have also broadened out in cricket developing Ultra-edge. This superseded the existing Snicometer, which uses directional microphones to detect small sounds made as the ball hits the bat or pad.

The impact of Hawk-Eye technology has cannot be underestimated. It still causes debate amongst fans and professionals alike about its accuracy and whether it should be used at all but with all 12 full member countries of the ICC except India agreeing the technology works, the technology in cricket has exploded in popularity and become an integral part of the game.

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