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by Ben Piper September 14, 2006 - 1:55pm, 2 Comments

US Open Instant Replay a Smash

The Hawk-Eye Tennis Officiating System is eliminating human error and exciting fans in one fell swing.

As tennis players become smarter, faster, and stronger, it has become necessary for tennis technology to do the same. With this in mind, the USTA has adopted the innovative Hawk-Eye Tennis Officiating System - a digitized instant replay produced by the conglomerate information of 10 high-speed cameras that individually capture the position of the ball at 50 frames per second.

The Hawk-Eye technology works as each camera’s computer calculates the exact center of the ball in each frame, and that 2-dimensional data is transmitted into a mainframe located in a control room. In a matter of seconds, the trajectory and exact landing spot of the ball are displayed in three dimensions and high definition.

While the US Open is the first American forum to initiate the use of this technology, it was first conceived by Englishman Paul Hawkins for the game of cricket. Hawkins notes, It was an easy fit for cricket, but I always knew this technology was perfect for tennis.

Interestingly, due to the Hawk-Eye’s efficiency and immediacy, the replay system is becoming increasingly popular with fans. The effect is so entertaining that tennis officials have asked technicians in the control room to pause for a few seconds, allowing suspense to build, before revealing the replay to audiences in attendance and watching on TV.

Critics of the Hawk-Eye technology wonder if depressing the line judge’s authority in the interest of correctness is healthy for tennis. Their argument is that the human element of sports in crucial, and that without it, the game becomes mechanical. Another qualm with the technology is that the implementation costs roughly $300,000 – a pretty penny even for the USTA. Time may prove however, that tennis must remain on the cusp of technology to keep fans on the edge of their seats.

[via popsci]