Culture: Television: Sports
Ball tracker   (+4, -2)  [vote for, against]
an automated camera with light-speed reflexes

A CIWS is a device mounted on a ship that can spot an incoming missile and shoot it down with an automated machine gun. Pretty tricky: the missile is very fast, a long way away, and changing course wildly; the gun is a big heavy thing to point around, and the bullet trajectory must be calculated so the system shoots the right distance above and in front of the missile.

A cricket ball moves much more slowly and more predictably than a missile, and all I want to be able to do is point a camera at it. A high-zoom, high-speed camera that can track the ball as it's bowled, then zoom in to see how it interacts with the batsman (LBW, hit, pass, bounce off the glove, etc....) and follow it to its final landing place (caught, over the boundary, solid forward defensive to nowhere, etc....). Some of the camera angles currently available almost make cricket exciting, but this would give a spectacular perspective.

Also probably good for baseball, tennis, even football (get a close zoom on the ball to spot dodgy tackles). Within the confines of a stadium or pitch, tracking an obvious, slow moving ball.... well, it seems hard, but a hell of a lot easier than shooting down a supersonic missile jigging around on the ocen a kilometre away.
-- swyves, Nov 24 2006

Sweet! Might need slo-mo replay.
-- jmvw, Nov 24 2006

Thing is, it's supremely more important to detect an incoming than it is to spot a cricket ball. It's just a matter of throwing money at it. If you really want this, you can have it; the technology exists, but it's gonna cost you.
-- angel, Nov 24 2006

Absolutely -- I'm thinking of a great high-zoom super-slo-mo function that they show now. You can watch the ball slowly tumble towards the batsman, but then the camera tends to lose is as no-one could have the reactions to keep it in the frame.
-- swyves, Nov 24 2006

So what have you invented? Use existing military technology to track a cricket ball? It's not done now because it would cost too much.
-- angel, Nov 24 2006

Are you sure? A Phalanx CIWS has a radar to track a missile out to a couple of miles despite jamming, laser rangefinder, infra-red sight, not to mention a cannon; the thing is huge, much heavier, longer range, more complex than a ball tracker would have to be (much smaller radar, camera, mount, computer). And that monster costs $5.6 million. Now, I'm not going to try to use that to estimate the camera cost, except to say that it would surely be a *lot* lower. And OK, something that might be over a million isn't cheap, but I understand that kind of budget is washing around easily in modern sports broadcasting, if this will give one network a clear advantage over its rivals.
-- swyves, Nov 24 2006

By saying it would cost too much, I mean that the advantage to the network (more viewers, therefore potentially more advertising revenue) is less than the disadvantage (more outlay). This must be the case, otherwise you would be seeing it happen.
-- angel, Nov 25 2006

"This must be the case, otherwise you would be seeing it happen" [angel]

If we assume that anything that is not being done, produced, etc. "must be" unfeasable for reasons of cost or whatever, then what's the point in this site?
-- swyves, Nov 25 2006

Sorry, you're missing my point. I'm saying that what you have 'invented' already exists but its not being used for your required purpose because it's not economically viable. If broadcasters felt that by spending vast sums on the technology you describe they would generate sufficient additional revenue to offset that cost, they would do so, just as they spent smaller sums on in-stump cameras and so on.
-- angel, Nov 25 2006

I'm afraid I'm still not following. What exists is a huge automated gatling gun on a battleship; what I'm suggesting is a camera for sports, and I haven't found any evidence that it already exists. Do you have a link?

In the "standing on the shoulders of giants" tradition, surely every new invention builds on old technology. Before the CIWS was invented there existed guns, radars, mounts, and computers that could track moving objects; the invention was to put them together.

So, I don't mean to sound whiny, but can you explain why you think this must have already been proposed to sports broadcasters?
-- swyves, Nov 25 2006

I wonder if higher resolution could be used to allow post-event cropping? That might reduce the requirement for the tracking system, and the cost.
-- Ling, Nov 25 2006

Ooh, I like that. You're talking a very high bit rate, with a high-res camera recording slo-mo, but it doesn't sound impossible; then someone can slow it down, crop, and you're away in the seconds it takes for them to cut to a different angle. In fact, a computer might well be able to track the ball and do the cropping in real time.
-- swyves, Nov 25 2006

We have cameras that track balls, pucks, bats and rotation of bowling balls. This idea is already in use and has been for quite some time. A friend of mine is quite an avid bowler to the point where he tries to get his ball to rotate at certin RPS (Rotations Per Seccond). He uses a high speed camera to track the ball.
-- Chefboyrbored, Nov 25 2006

Baked in the lab, but not yet as a product. Look up Saccade Mirror 3. I just wish better diagrams of its mirror geometry were available.
-- notexactly, May 28 2019

random, halfbakery