How does hawk-eye technology work?

With all the sports coming up this summer, find out how hawk-eye technology could improve your viewing experience.

17 Jun 2019

There’s always loads of great sport to watch on our tellies: the ICC Cricket World Cup, Women’s FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon, Netball World Cup, Rugby World Cup, Athletics World Championships…

And in this digital age, even sport has started to use tech in really innovative ways. Hawk-Eye has been around since 2001, and is the leading provider, featuring in over 20 sports worldwide.

  • Goal Line Technology and VAR has been controversially included in football
  • Rugby has the TMO for difficult calls
  • Cricket uses Hawk-Eye for making the all-important ‘leg before wicket’ (LBW) decision
  • It’s also famous for those close line calls at Wimbledon
  • And reviewing ‘last touch’ decisions in basketball
  • Snooker, golf and even horse racing are also integrating this tech


So, what actually is Hawk-Eye?

Basically, it’s a super smart computer system, adapted from brain surgery and missile-tracking tech. Its technical name is ‘vision processing technology’.

There is a huge amount of data going on behind the scenes, with all sorts of cameras, infra-red motion tracking and touch-sensitive pressure sensors involved.

This is then combined with video replay and creative graphics to get the slick graphics we see on screen.


How does Hawk-Eye work?

Well, it all depends on the sport – let’s take a look on some of the most popular applications of Hawk-Eye technology…


Leg before wicket decisions in cricket

Six cameras track the ball as soon as the bowler releases it from their hand, including bouncing, spinning and swinging. This tracking is then converted into a 3D image to show a cricket pitch graphic.

Hawk eye cricket

As a viewer at home, you get to see:

  • What would have happened if there wasn’t an LBW
  • Where each ball pitches from specific bowlers
  • How fast a ball travelled
  • How much time a batsman has to react

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Electronic line calling in tennis

“You cannot be serious!” Being a tennis linesman is a tough job – especially when the ball can get up to 120mph in a serve.

Hawk-Eye is approved by the International Tennis Federation and officially used in 80 tennis tournaments worldwide. If a player challenges a call, Hawk-Eye is used to show whether the ball was in or out.

Hawk eye tennis

  • 10 cameras are positioned around the court to track the ball
  • A 3D image is processed frame by frame to show the ball’s trajectory
  • It’s accurate to within 5mm
  • The VR image is produced in less than 10 seconds
  • It’s also used for foot faults


Goal line technology in football

Ask any football fan and they’re bound to have an opinion on VAR and goal line technology.

While it’s only been part of the game since 2018, it’s already led to a number of controversies. Some fans claim it slows the game down, while others think it’s a good thing as it leads to more accurate decisions.

Hawk eye football

For England fans, it came too late – surely we all remember Lampard’s ‘goal that never was’ against Germany in 2010?

Whichever way you look at it, it looks like Hawk-Eye – which was the first tech to be given a FIFA Goal Line Technology (GLT) licence – is here to stay now.

It’s already used in association football leagues/tournaments around the world, including the FIFA World Cup, Premier League, German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A.

  • 7 cameras are set up on each goal
  • They will always be able to track the ball’s location
  • And detects when the ball crosses the goal line
  • An instant notification is sent to the referee’s watch
  • It’s millimetre accurate, so it’s the final say in any tricky decisions


SMART Replays in Rugby

You’ve got to be pretty tough to be a rugby player. You’ve got to be even tougher to be a rugby referee. With so many decisions to make – from forward passes to knowing whether the ball has crossed the try line – it’s only natural that Hawk-Eye has a prominent place in rugby.

Hawk eye rugby

While instant replay decisions have been a feature of rugby league since the 1990s, this year’s Rugby World Cup will be the first to use a TMO. What’s interesting is that the TMO is isolated in a room where they can’t listen to the match broadcasters, giving them the power to make their decisions independently.

Hawk-Eye has a second positive effect in rugby: because of the likelihood of head injuries, it’s helping doctors provide better treatment to players.

  • Multiple cameras are trained to follow the action both on and off the ball
  • All footage is watched by a TMO in “The Bunker”
  • They watch instant replays from multiple angles and in slow motion
  • The first video referee in rugby appeared at the 1996 Super League World Nines


Make the most of sport’s top tech by watching your favourite sporting events in gorgeous 4K UHD.

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