AI in the World Cup

AI in the World Cup

AI in the World Cup: At the 2022 World Cup, everything from stadium temperatures to the soccer balls is run on sensors and algorithms.

The global sports bonanza has started. Millions are tuning in at home, and others are braving the heat to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in person.

A host of worries come with the attention on Doha: Fans will probably complain about botched calls. Stadium officials hope to minimize crowds.

There are worries of overheating. Government officials will have public safety at the top of their minds. Scandals and human rights abuses abound.

Artificial intelligence in the World Cup

Technology can’t solve it all, but will be part of the answer. Officials are relying on sophisticated tools to control almost every aspect of the games:
from the soccer balls being kicked around to the thousands of cameras tracking fans’ and players’ nearly every move, bringing intrigue and concern.

Here’s a look at the innovations being used.

Sensor soccer ball

The official match ball, made by Adidas, will have motion sensors inside and the sensor will report precise location data on the ball 500 times per second, according to the company, helping referees make more precise calls.

The sensor-filled ball was road-tested at several soccer tournaments leading up to the main event, including the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup, and did not affect player performance, Adidas said.

a ball will be used in all of the tournament’s 64 matches and will feed information back to a data nerve center, which officials can use to track statistics and monitor game play.

Sensor soccer ball

Video Assistant Referees

A staple of watching any soccer match is complaining about the calls.

But in this tournament, officials will try to minimize the controversy by using video assistant referees, which use algorithms and data points to help on-field referees make accurate calls, FIFA officials said.

The technology was tested in the 2018 World Cup, and has gotten enhancements for this year’s games.

AI in the World Cup

The system will rely on tracking cameras mounted underneath stadium roofs to track the sensor-filled ball and up to 29 data points on each player’s body, at 50 times per second, FIFA officials added.

The data points tracking players’ limbs and ball location will be fed into an artificial intelligence system, helping referees make accurate calls on penalties, such as who is offside.

An automated alert will ping match officials inside a video operation room, who will then validate the decision before informing the referee, they said.

Stadium cooling

The heat was always going to be an issue. Though not scorching summer temperatures, temperatures in Qatar could get stiflingly hot during the next month.

Officials are relying on an advanced cooling system. According to FIFA, it is designed by a Qatari professor, Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani, who is often called “Dr. Cool.” Air is drawn into pipes and vents in the stadium, cooled, filtered and pushed out again.

It will create a cool bubble inside the stadium, where sensors will help regulate temperatures, game officials told news outlets.

Using insulation and a tech-fueled method called “spot cooling” — which allows cooling to take place only where people are — stadiums will be kept between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cameras and algorithms

Command and control centers in Qatar will rely on more than 15,000 cameras to track people’s movements throughout the games, Qatari officials told Agence France-Presse in August.

The cameras will be spread among all eight stadiums. In Lusail Stadium, which holds more than 80,000 people and where the final match will be held, facial recognition technology will be used to track fans, according to Al Jazeera, which has generated concerns over privacy.

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