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Ever wondered what’s making these World Cup footballs so smart?

What does the ball know when the referee’s not looking?

If you are a football-fan, like Mr. X, or you’ve been on social media in the past few weeks, you are likely to have seen a viral photo circulating of footballs plugged in to charge at the World Cup.

To grasp the concept, you have to think of the history of human error in football. Voted as one of the most unfair disallowed goals of all time, Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’ against Germany, where the ball crossed the goal line, and exited again, is a prime example of this growing necessity to improve the accuracy of referee decision-making. Thus, still rather controversially, Video Assistant Refereeing was born. 

To assist VAR, the game is turning to technology to further minimise the risk of human-error. In the case of ball-sensing, at the Qatar World Cup, hawk-eye camera systems are now being used in conjunction, with KINEXON’s xBall, an ultra-light, 14 g, UWB (ultra-wideband) and IMU (inertial measurement), sensor, integrated directly into the smart-footballs, and charged for 2 hours before use. 

Considered the gold standard of indoor localisation, without the interference and interception of comparable wireless technologies, the radio-based, xBall, enables officials to review live, accurate data at up to 500 times per second, assisting in the detection of offside situations and unclear touches.  

Additionally, the 500 Hz IMU-sensing delivers high-resolution inertial data, such as spin rate and impact force, allowing for detection of nuances in ball movement. This includes contact made by players in tight situations, in particular where a goalscorer is unclear or whether impact is detected on a potential handball. 

To facilitate the data collection from the ball’s sensor, in stationary locations surrounding the pitch, a radio-based Local Positioning System (LPS) is installed that detects every movement of the football in 3D, with up to 10-cm accuracy with a delay of less than 20 ms.  

The use-case of KINEXON’s ultra-precise localisation isn’t limited to sports, and it is now available for industrial connectivity for the mass market in the form of an “X-Tag”, the World’s most cost-efficient UWB sensor. Such technology allows for real-time location intelligence in shops and factories, particularly useful for manufacturers in highly accurate stock-checking and order processing. 

Internet of Things is a constantly-growing, global technological trend, so it makes sense for sports and industrial markets to look to this type of localisation technology, where insights can be gathered as quickly and intelligently as possible. Now, KINEXON’s mission is to provide assistance with integrating their sensing solutions in industrial and sports projects, with full flexibility in where they lend a hand. If this type of consultancy could be useful to you, get in touch here.  

Alternatively, if you’re looking to evaluate localisation technology in your own design, Novelda’s X4 is a complete UWB Proximity Sensor solution with a tiny footprint of 12 x 12 mm and a thickness of only 2 mm. This solution operates without an external MCU as all signal processes run on the proximity sensor itself, and it can be easily integrated into any designs, whether that be behind plastic, glass, or fabrics, without affecting performance.  
The X4 is the World’s smallest available radar SoC, with a low power consumption of <120 mW, offering detection through any material (except metal) and ultra-high spatial resolution for simultaneous multi-object tracking. You can apply to evaluate Novelda’s UWB technology here

KINEXON xBall & Industrial UWB Sensing

KINEXON offers consultancy at various levels from hardware installation to full-stack support, both industrially and for sports applications. Apply to enter consultation by filling out a simple form here.

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