How sports welcomed the digital revolution. And how dotmoovs is the next step.
Hello again, sports fans!
You might have noticed that we have started a new series here on the dotmoovs blog. We are sharing some of the hard-earned knowledge we’ve acquired building and running this company. You are our community, you are the lifeblood of this enterprise, and we want to pay it forward.
The first article we wrote was a brief history of AI. We looked at how the concept of AI developed through the ages, from the first mythical and fictional conceptions humanity had of it (some are EXTREMELY old) to our modern, technological conception of it.
You should take a look, if you’re interested.
Today, we will be looking at another fundamental aspect of our work: the intersection between digital tech and sports.
How did these two worlds meet, and when? Well, let’s take a look:
Digital timekeeping was first
There are many aspects of sport that have been digitalised with the passing of the years, but perhaps the first of all was timekeeping.
Analog stopwatches were originally used to keep track of runner’s finishing times up to a 1/100th of a second with a photo-finish mechanism included. This tech was developed by Seiko, and it was unveiled at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
From that moment forward, digital timekeeping would become the norm, with every speed competition, from running to horse-racing to swimming, would have its own version of this technology to ensure the results are as accurate as possible.
This isn’t the only area where digital would have a massive impact.
This would mark the beginning of a new era for sports, with digital tools being tested and approved for a number of disciplines.
Gear and equipment would gradually become more sophisticated
There’s nothing digital about a wooden racket, is there? Well, that’s maybe why they didn’t last.
Metal rackets would be introduced afterwards, but one of the most important developments came when graphite rackets were introduced in 1980. Graphite is not a material you can sculpt by hand. Not if you want it to be tough and light enough to make the ultimate tennis racket. Graphite rackets, the standard nowadays, can only be made with the aid of CAD (computer-assisted design) and CAM (computer-assisted manufacturing) techniques.
This isn’t exactly bleeding-edge technology nowadays, but in the 80s it completely changed the way sporting gear was manufactured, which reflected itself on a number of things, from balls to shoes to the very shirts we wear.
Once, sporting materials were handcrafted. Then, factories came along. But the single most important evolution of the gear and equipment world was definitely the introduction of the computer. Everything sports stars wear and use nowadays has been scientifically calculated by a digital machine to operate at peak efficiency.
Making sure the refs get it right
Up until very recently, refs were pretty much on their own. Whatever they decided stood.
Nowadays, however, most referee decisions are aided by some sort of digital tech. There are three categories in particular that are widely used:
- Hawk-Eye is an incredibly versatile tech that uses a number of high-performance cameras to trail the ball’s movement from different angles. By triangulating the images it then creates a visual representation of the ball’s path, effectively proving where it’s been. This is used in a number of sports, such as tennis, rugby, or even hurling.
- Goal-line technology has been permitted in football since 2012, and what it does essentially is verify if the ball has entirely crossed the line by means of an electronic system. The ball is equipped with a chip of some sort that is readable by sensors that are placed strategically around the field of play. Most (but not all) of goal-line tech uses Hawk-Eye.
- Virtual imaging is used for other purposes than refereeing, such as, for instance, creating lovely graphics on television. It’s used for refereeing as well, though, with the creation of, say, offside lines, or virtual representations of a tennis ball hitting the line. These virtual images give the referee perspective and aid with the decision-making.
Coverage of events
Perhaps the most revolutionary impact of digital on sports however, has been the introduction of the good old high-speed Internet. By providing the means for sporting competitions to be easily and cheaply transmitted around the world, digital tech has transformed some competitions into truly global phenomena, from the English Premier League to the NBA.
Sportsmen have become global icons, and the leagues themselves are transcending the usual television contracts to start creating their own streaming services, bypassing the middleman.
Some online betting houses are choosing to transmit the matches themselves, so as to allow for users to bet while they watch.
It’s a brave new world, and it’s changing the way sports work. It’s making the entertainment value of sports surpass the competitive nature of them. It’s become standard fare for minor celebrities and YouTubers to completely dominate, for instance, the boxing circuit, entirely overshadowing the actual title fights, both in terms of viewership and prize money.
Artificial Intelligence will change it all
Did we mention we wrote an article on the development of AI? Well, surprise surprise, we took a little gander at how AI could influence sports, and the role dotmoovs intends to play in that.
Let us quote ourselves for a second:
“Our AI algorithm is effectively a video-referee. It watches videos of you playing and it scores your performance according to whatever criteria are in place. The first version of our product, our very own MVP, is already in use. We taught our little creation to watch the wonderful athletes in our community as they perform freestyle tricks with a football.
And it knows exactly what it’s seeing.
As we said before: we now understand that AI isn’t necessarily imitating humans. What our product does, judging performances fairly, with exact criteria, time and again, with no mistakes, and no fluctuations in performance, is something a human being could never do.
Playing ball, however…
We will always need people to do that.”
Can you imagine the potential of this kind of application?
A foolproof referee that is always fair?
That’s exactly what we’re working on.
Care to give it a go? Just follow this link and you can try out our system.
The time to MOOV is now.