Its that time again and Wimbledon is in full swing. Now in its ninth year in London, and for the first time operating across all six Show Courts, Hawk-Eye has become an integral part of the game.
The technology uses 10 cameras on each court and sophisticated algorithms to determine the position of the ball. A wealth of information is generated on each shot, which adds up to an indispensable databank for broadcasters and players alike.
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Unfortunately the system is very expensive to install so remains out of reach to amateur players. This could, however, all change very soon, and for the price of a tennis racket you might be able to have your very own personal hawk-eye system.
We wrote back in March about a product called In/Out. The GoPro like device can be fastened to any tennis net post in less than a minute to detect in real-time which side of the line the ball lands. It does this thanks to the same algorithms that provide line-detection for self driving cars.
The system is not perfect, and operates with a margin of error of 20-30 millimetres. While this may not be precise enough for professional tennis players, it is perfectly acceptable for a Sunday tournament match, recreational play or a junior tennis match. In any case, it is definitely better than the eye.
But that’s not all, In/Out also detects let serves and provides detailed stats analysis. For each shot, the gadget will track the ball speed, spin and location with 99% accuracy. Further analysis will show shot placement with percentage by zone as seen on TV, calculated for both players.
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In/Out can work on any court – hard court, carpet, clay, grass – as long as there are a few white lines and the lighting conditions are ok. The battery runs more than two hours in line call mode, and one hour and half when recoding or streaming 1080p video. This can, however, be extended by plugging in a power bank. The video provides efficient replay (skips the changeover and towel timeoffs), and provides an optional augmented reality overlay.
While all this sounds like the stuff of science fiction, the wait may soon be over. The first unit has now been built and has exited the factory line. This means the hardware is complete and is ready for ‘mass’ production and the late-summer release date.
Orders for those who placed a $25 donation will begin next week. It seems the $200 gadget has generated quite a bit of buzz in the tennis community and demand for the first batch will far outstrip supply. In terms of dates, we can expect the first units to roll out around US Open time.
For more information on how to order, head over to the In/Out website.
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