THE world Cup in Qatar, which started last Sunday (20), promises to be the most technological of all. One of the novelties that generated more buzz was the sensor technology used in the event’s official ball — named Al Rihla —, manufactured by Adidas.
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According to the company, the connected ball technology will be used to enhance the VAR system. It provides referees with data and information to make faster and more accurate decisions. It is the first time that an official World Cup ball features this type of innovation.
Combined with player position data and applying artificial intelligence, the system is used alongside FIFA’s semi-automated offside technology.
Al Rihla: How Connected Ball Technology Works
A suspension system in the center of the ball protects and stabilizes a motion sensor from inertial measurement unit (IMU) 500 Hz, capable of tracking each touch at a rate of 500 times per second. The sensor is powered by an induction rechargeable battery, that is, it can be charged wirelessly.
Developed in collaboration with FIFA and KINEXON, a company specializing in the internet of things (IoT) and state-of-the-art sensors, the system provides the VAR with the information collected in real time.
“This will help inform offside situations as well as detect unclear touches, thus improving the quality and speed of the VAR decision-making process,” says Adidas.
The company claims that the sensor is imperceptible to gamers and does not affect their performance.
Before being used in the Cup, the technology of the connected ball was tested “rigorously and robustly”, says Adidas, with professional and grassroots football clubs around the world, at events such as the FIFA Arab Cup and the FIFA World Cup. FIFA Club World Cup 2021 in Abu Dhabi. There was no perceived change in player performance, according to the company.
Al Rihla will be used in all 64 matches of the tournament. The raw data captured during the World Cup and transmitted to the video match referees is directly owned and managed by FIFA.
Al Rihla: Can I have mine?
Adidas informed that Al Rihla with the technology ball connected will not be marketed or made available at retail.