Monday 31 January 2022, 09:00

Limb-tracking technology offers new array of possibilities

  • FIFA tests limb-tracking technology at FIFA Arab Cup 2021™

  • Technology delivers new data source for innovative applications

  • Potential to provide new insights for coaches, medical staff and fans

Tests run by FIFA at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ at the end of 2021 indicate that limb-tracking data could provide ground-breaking insights and new applications for coaches, medical staff and fans alongside its pivotal role in semi-automated offside technology. FIFA is currently exploring the potential of limb-tracking technology, which enables the real-time creation of three-dimensional visual representations of players’ skeletons.

This emerging technology in football is one of the core elements of the semi-automated offside system that was tested during the FIFA Arab Cup in Doha. Limb-tracking technology relies on a dedicated camera system - installed under the roof of the stadium - that captures the movement of all the players and the ball. The different systems on the market provide up to 29 data points per player, which make up the players’ animated skeleton. In line with the goal of harnessing technology to meet the needs of modern football, as laid out in The Vision 2020-2023, FIFA is investigating the full potential of these new data sets and how they can positively impact the game. Thanks to the new data source and processing by AI-based visualisation companies, an entire match can be watched as a virtual animation with only a few seconds’ delay, providing technical staff, coaches and medical experts with the opportunity to examine the match from new perspectives. For example, they would be able to analyse the action from the point of view of a specific player on the pitch, scrutinise a match changing moment from the perfect angle or get a bird’s-eye view of the pitch.

FTI Limb Tracking graphic screenshot

As the world of entertainment becomes ever more interactive and immersive, this opens up new avenues for football, including additional gaming and esports possibilities that are emerging from technologies such as limb-tracking. Mirroring football matches in virtual worlds using this technology can unlock exciting opportunities for fans and individualise their football experience.

Following the successful testing of these new data sets and animations at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, FIFA is continuing to work with leading universities and technology providers to further explore new opportunities. Christian Volk, FIFA’s Director of eFootball and Gaming, said: “The rapid development in merging the real and digital worlds will eventually transform the way football is consumed. While it is still early days, the test showed the potential for fans to experience matches like never before.”

Electronic performance and tracking systems infographic

Johannes Holzmüller, FIFA’s Director of Football Technology & Innovation, added: “We strongly believe that access to this new data source can positively impact the game by optimising decision-making processes and increasing objectivity. However, we are only at the beginning of this development journey and possible use cases need to be tested thoroughly to assess the capabilities with a view to eventual implementation.” Additional testing involving limb-tracking technology is set to take place at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021™ in Abu Dhabi in February. Video and Graphics source: Beyond Sports