Congratulations to Argentina! What a final that was on Sunday where everything literally went down to the wire. What was even more impressive was everything else happening behind the scenes on and off the pitch. The sheer amount of tech there was almost unfathomable complete with a ‘smart ball’ that the players were playing with.
VAR (Video Assisted Referee) is a technology that has been there in soccer for a while now. It makes use of cameras on the pitch which a referee can play back to more accurately determine if there was an offside or not. Usually, we find this in cases where the referee may have had their vision obscured by another player.
For the 2022 FIFA World Cup, they went a step further. 12 dedicated cameras were mounted underneath the roof of the stadium. There are meant to track every player on the pitch 50 times a second. What they are tracking is not just movements the players make but also their limbs and extremities bringing the data points to 29. The highlight here is that the data from these cameras are used to make accurate live 3D models of the players on the field which they can augment with a virtual field to further assist in the semi-automated offside technology used at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Qatar is a desert and so the weather conditions there are brutal. It’s very hot and dry which is something that can severely affect the performance of the players and the comfort of the fans. So a lot went into the design of the stadium itself to ensure it provides a comfortable environment for both.
The biggest thing working against you when you’re trying to cool a stadium is the opening of the stadium’s roof because that is where external hot air enters. That’s why studying where air can exit and how we can push and pull back air differs from stadium to stadium as it depends on its shape, height, and width.Dr. Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani – Qatar FIFA stadium cooling
To achieve this, they developed a cooling system that works with air recirculation. Air passes through a water filter, and a cooler and is then filtered before it is blown out into the stadium via vents underneath spectator’s seats and blower nozzles on the pitch.
The techy bit is that to achieve this constant climate, the cooling system of the stadium uses sensors to measure outside wind speed and direction and uses that data to automatically adjust the direction the cooled air is blown inside the stadium. It also has a zoned operation to send more cooling to zones where the sun shines and less where the shade is to ensure consistent 20-degree Celcius temps regardless of the outside environment.
The wifi & data
The 7 stadiums that hosted the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup were fitted with an abundance of 4G, 5G, and wifi antennae to keep the fans home and away very happy. A total of 8466 to be exact. This all amounted to 533TB of mobile data and 136TB of wifi data consumed. To put it into context, Telecel’s data consumed by its subscribers countrywide in 6 months was half of the data consumed in the 4 weeks that the FIFA world cup was running.
4G download speeds were maintained at 20Mbps and 5G speeds at 240Mbps. Not very impressive numbers considering at one point NetOne was dishing out 70Mbps on 4G. Gone are the days.
You heard that right. Al Rihla (The Journey) and Al Hilm (The Dream) were the official 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer balls. Made by Adidas, they incorporated what they termed ‘Connected Ball Technology’ where there are sensors and a communication module inside the ball which can detect, record, and transmit data for the ball 500 times a second.
With the development of the connected ball technology, Adidas made it possible that an additional important layer of information is available to the video match officials.FIFA
The data from the ball unlocks new insights for storytelling around the unique moments on the pitch at this World Cup.
The data being gathered by the ball feeds into the semi-automated VAR system for a more accurate virtual recreation of the match and even goes towards stats for each player during a match. The balls are available in the Adidas store minus the tech in case anyone is interested.
The visually impaired
When such big tournaments are going on, the disabled in the community are usually forgotten. However, that was not the case this time. There was something for the visually impaired in the form of Bonocle, a braille entertainment platform.
Bonocle will enable the blind community all over the world to experience the World Cup in 2022 in new ways that were never available before…It will remove the barriers that have kept blind people restricted and open doors for them to explore new things and new places.Bonocle’s Founders
Feelix is also another technology for the visually impaired that uses electric pulses on the palm of the person’s hand to provide braille-like feedback on their palm. These are both a first as a FIFA World Cup tournament.