If there’s one thing that can unite the human race on the global level, it’s the chance to rub your athletic superiority in another nation’s face. The 2014 FIFA World Cup is upon us, and if you’re anything like me, there’s interest to be found around the fringes of huge sporting spectacles such as this, as well as the games themselves. Beyond the eye-catching beauty of its host country, Brazil, it’s sure to impress given the many technological wonders associated with it. So, in honor of the World Cup returning to its spiritual home, allow us to provide you with our picks of the tournament’s most impressive technology.
1. Goal Line Tech
This much-talked about technology—sure to ease many headaches and broken hearts alike—is finally here. Goal line technology (pictured above) has been said to be arriving for years now and it’s no longer just the banter of athletic lore.
German firm GoalControl has outfitted the World Cup stadiums with sets of 14 cameras that will track ball play within millimeters. Whenever the ball happens to pass the goal line, an encrypted radio signal is delivered to a referee’s watch signaling the goal—all in less than a second’s time. Talk about la mano de Dios!
The Brazuca is a new ball designed by sports firm Adidas who have made every world cup ball since 1970. Launched in December of 2013 and created for this year’s World Cup, “Brazuca” was chosen as part of a vote of 1 million Brazilian football fans, and it even has its own Twitter handle. The name is a local term for describing national Brazilian pride for and the colors and design symbolize the emotions and pride associated with football in Brazil.
Beyond the symbolism and aesthetics of the ball there is quite a bit of tech that goes into creating it. The Brazuca is different than traditional soccer balls because it is made up of six interlocking polyurethane panels and has thousands of small dimples on the surface that are designed to create grip and speed. The ball for 2010, the now-infamous Jabulani, came under a lot of scrutiny at the tournament in South Africa, and to avoid a repeat emergence of any misgivings, Brazuca has been tested for two-and-a-half years and has received approval from 600 of the world’s top players including Lionel Messi, Iker Casillas, Bastian Schweinsteiger and former France player Zinedine Zidane.
Adidas is confident that the Brazuca’s technology will “meet and exceed all FIFA metrics” and will “ensure top performance for every condition.”
“A new structural innovation with a unique symmetry of six identical panels alongside a different surface structure will provide improved grip, touch, stability and aerodynamics on the pitch. Brazuca has been thoroughly tested to meet and exceed all FIFA metrics for an official match ball, ensuring top performance for every condition,” an Adidas statement read.
3. Hollywood-level Video Quality
It’s more than a little appropriate that the World Cup will take place during the summer Blockbuster Season given that both will be filmed using Sony’s F65 powerhouse camera. The camera, already used to capture films like Oblivion and After Earth, shoots in RAW 8K, and will allow event organizers to shoot the cup’s final three matches in mouthwatering 4K resolution.
4. Next-gen turnstiles
This year, FIFA has spared no expense— even each set of stadium turnstiles is state-of-the-art. Hardwired with high-def cameras used to validate tickets on the fly, automatic bar lowering in case of emergency, and other neat perks, these turnstiles will ensure FIFA can welcome its thousands of guests at maximum speed and efficiency.
5. Info-Packed Cards
Always looking for an advantage, teams like Italy’s national squad is providing its players with ATM-style cards that, when accessed, provide players with tournament and training schedules, scouting videos, coach speeches, and more. Let’s hope these only benefit “Gli Azzuri” after the fixture against Roy Hodgson’s men.
The Internet of Things
The tech innovations are not limited to this particular five-a-side – the disappearing marker spray also captures the imagination – and, if the last world cup in South Africa was the world cup of social media, this year’s tournament is arguably the “World Cup of the Internet of Things.” Not so snappy an epithet, but no less accurate for that. For a complete top-to-toe tech rundown of this year’s sporting showpiece, check out this infographic from standards organisation, the IEEE.