High-tech World Cup ball packed with sensors is the future of football

The Adidas balls being used at the World Cup are filled with sensors (Credit: Adidas)

Despite his best efforts, Ronaldo wasn’t able to claim his goal against Uruguay because of the high-tech match ball.

All the balls at the World Cup have been fitted with special sensors that can track and record almost any facet of play.

We’re talking real-time spatial positioning data that communicates directly with a series of network antennas installed around the stadiums.

This means anytime the ball is kicked, thrown or knocked over a goal line or into touch, the ball itself knows about it.

The particular sensor is known as an ultra-wideband (UWB) sensor which is far superior to GPS (in close quarters) when it comes to positioning.

This additional data means that VAR and offside calls can be (in theory) more accurate and streamlined than ever before.

The Qatar tournament is the first time this tech has been trialled properly – but it’s not hard to see it coming to the likes of the Euros and the Premier League in the near future.

Alongside the UWB sensor is an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor which, quite literally, detects nuanced movements of the ball in space – which can judge whether or not a touch has impacted it. And this is what proved Ronaldo’s undoing.

The IMU sensor in the ball didn’t register a touch when Ronaldo tried to head it (Credit: Adidas)

‘In the match between Portugal and Uruguay, using the Connected Ball Technology housed in adidas’s Al Rihla Official Match Ball, we are able to definitively show no contact on the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo for the opening goal in the game,’ a statement from FIFA on behalf of adidas read.

‘No external force on the ball could be measured as shown by the lack of ‘heartbeat’ in our measurements.

‘The 500Hz IMU sensor inside the ball allows us to be highly accurate in our analysis.’

Next time, Cristiano. Next time.

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