Ronaldo’s record-tying World Cup goal deflated by soccer-ball tech
The Future. The denial of Ronaldo’s record-tying World Cup goal is the most high-profile use of adidas’ new “Connected Ball Technology” AI-sensor system. By developing deeper ways of visualizing the game (and making controversial calls), adidas may have several leagues knocking on its doors to license the technology.
Tech crushed Cristiano Ronaldo’s dreams during Monday’s Portugal vs. Uruguay World Cup match, per The Athletic.
- Ronaldo thought he had connected with a kick made by teammate Bruno Fernandes to score against Uruguay — a goal that would tie him with Portuguese soccer legend Eusébio for most total World Cup goals (9).
- But while Ronaldo celebrated, the goal was actually given to Fernandes — with ball-maker adidas saying that Ronaldo never touched the ball.
- How does adidas know that so definitively? For the first time, the World Cup balls have a 500Hz inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor suspended in the middle that can measure when a ball has been touched — a “heartbeat” monitor.
- The readout from the sensor did not show any sign of “external force” when Ronaldo allegedly touched the ball. adidas even released a real-time chart to back the call.
How accurate is this sensor? The “Connected Ball Technology” in adidas’ Rihla Pro World Cup Ball transmits its location on the field 500 times a second. So, pretty accurate.
Soccer system update
Futuristic soccer balls aren’t the only new tech that FIFA has rolled out at the World Cup.
- It also introduced a semi-automated AI system with “12 tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of stadiums.”
- The system uses machine learning to track 29 unique points on a player’s body during the game.
Combined with the sensor in the ball, the player-tracking is helpful for referees to call an offside offense (when a striker is nearer to the other team’s goal than their opponent’s second–to-last defense and receive the ball). Refs are sent an alert when an offense has occurred, which can be reviewed in a control room before making an official decision.
And if fans get a little too heated by a call, FIFA says that the data generated by the system can be used to create “automated animations,” which can be played on stadium screens to show exactly why a call was made. Now, everyone can be part of the replay process.