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Even if you are not a fan of ‘the beautiful game’ it can’t have escaped your notice that World Cup fever is officially upon us. The ARTÉMIA office is an international one so we are all getting into the spirit supporting various teams, but are of course unified in getting behind Team USA!
The World Cup, like the Olympics, is one of those global events so huge that it serves as a kind of punctuation mark, a useful point to take stock of how things have progressed over a set period. The key differentiator for this World Cup is that it is being hailed as the most high-tech tournament to date.
Even NASA has gotten involved – who knew soccer is actually rocket science?! I was surprised and slightly baffled to learn that every World Cup, a new soccer ball is designed specifically for the tournament. NASA has taken this year’s design and used it as a way of demonstrating the concepts of aerodynamics to a wider audience. As Rabi Mehta, chief of the Experimental Aero-Physics Branch at NASA’s Ames Research Center explains on NASA’s website, “Sports provide a great opportunity to introduce the next generation of researchers to our field of aerodynamics by showing them something they can relate to.” And the good news? This year’s ball is one the players should be happy with. Again, according to Rabi Mehta, “It is more stable in flight and will handle more like a traditional 32-panel ball.”
The search engine Bing has also joined the soccer party, playing to its strengths by using its prediction technology to forecast the winners. If you type “World Cup Predictions,” or any group matches, Bing will display the chances of each team to win. There are also other features designed to make instant soccer experts of us all, such as ‘snapshots’ of each player that list all their key statistics. As well as an innovative use of their technology, it’s also a really smart marketing move in terms of making Bing the search engine of choice for soccer fans – with the World Cup lasting around a month, that’s plenty of time to convert people to Bing for good.
For their part, Google has teamed up with ESPN so that match highlights will come up when World Cup searches are made. Similar to Bing, they are also offering real-time highlights from the search home page. It’s going to be a distracting next few weeks!
Finally, wearable tech is also a feature of this World Cup. Referees will be wearing smartwatches that vibrate and flash ‘GOAL’ when a ball crosses the line, linking to another new development introduced this year of goal-line technology. After past controversies, soccer’s governing body FIFA has implemented technology similar to that used in tennis which definitively tracks whether a ball has actually gone over the goal line. The referees still make the final call, but in a tournament where the referees are grabbing as many headlines as the games themselves so far, a little bit of help from technology may be just what’s needed.
Have a great World Cup!
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