ChyronHego’s TRACAB team in Sweden has achieved another important milestone in its latest developments towards a semi-automated offside technology, based upon the Emmy® Award-winning TRACAB Gen5 optical tracking system. At a June 22 video conference hosted by ChyronHego and attended by FIFA and its Working Group for Innovation Excellence, the TRACAB team presented a demonstration of powerful new capabilities in TRACAB OCT (Offside Calling Technology) (Story on FIFA Website). Exploiting its AI-driven ball tracking for automated ball pass detection, combined with limb tracking and skeletal modeling derived from video feeds, the technology is showing great promise to support referees in the future to make fast and highly accurate offside calling decisions.
FIFA has made semi-automated offside technology a top priority as it continues to develop Video Assistant Referee (VAR) capabilities at all levels of football. With this technology, FIFA aims to enhance VAR systems with expanded and more accurate information to assist referees’ decision-making and make the offside review process as efficient as possible. TRACAB OCT is one of only a handful of advanced technologies being assessed by many prominent football organizations from around the world that make up the Working Group for Innovation Excellence.
“TRACAB Gen5 has a well-deserved reputation as the world’s most accurate system for on-field player and ball tracking, relied upon by major football organizations in many countries for both media applications and performance analysis of teams and players. Now an enhanced version of this technology is being used to tackle offside calling, a notoriously challenging decision for football referees and one which can sometimes slow down gameplay during VAR reviews,” said Ian Wray, global sports director for TRACAB at ChyronHego. “The aim of TRACAB’s semi-automated offside technology is to support referees in making offside situation decisions accurately, confidently, and as quickly as possible, removing interruptions in the flow of the game and improving the overall fan experience.”
The tracking technology built into TRACAB OCT addresses two key aspects of semi-automated offside calling: the exact moment of a critical ball pass and the precise location of involved players and their limbs relative to the goal line. TRACAB applies deep convolutional neural network algorithms to identify players’ key body parts, such as heads, shoulders, arms, hips, knees, heels, and toes, to enable the creation of three-dimensional skeletal movements of players. The resulting multidimensional data, accurate enough even to define the position of the tip of a striker’s foot, can be fed automatically into VAR operations to inform referees’ real-time decisions on offside calls.
To help visualize the solution as clearly as possible, TRACAB OCT plugs into its visualization tool, Virtual Football, which renders a virtual offside line accurately on top of the video, based upon the positional data provided to it by the tracking system.
Wray added, “Two of the key building blocks of the system, TRACAB Gen5 and Virtual Football, have already achieved certification for their accuracy under the respective FIFA Quality Programmes, and this provides added confidence in the video evidence that TRACAB OCT will present to referees to help in their offside decision-making. We are looking forward to continuing our efforts with FIFA and the Working Group over the coming months to help refine, evolve and improve the technology even further. And going forward, we see TRACAB’s unprecedented level of live data resolution and quality powering many other new stakeholder applications for fan engagement and professional purposes, keeping it at the forefront of data innovation in sports.”