What is SAOT?
- There are two parts to the technology — a sensor inside the match ball (Adidas’s Al Rihla) that is held using suspension technology, and existing tracking tools that are part of the VAR system as we know.
- Kinexon, a German company that specialises in providing sensor networks and computing solutions, has designed a small in-ball device which gives precise positional data and also detects ball movement in a three-dimensional space.
- Every time the ball is hit, data is sent in real time (at a whopping 500 frames per second) to a network of antennae installed around the playing field.
- Additionally, there are 12 Hawk-Eye cameras set up around the turf that shadow both the ball and the players, with as many as 29 separate points in the human body tracked.
- The coming together of the ball sensor and the Hawk-Eye cameras is in effect SAOT, which FIFA says allows for decisions that are highly accurate and quick.
- These two data sets are run through artificial intelligence software which generates automated alerts about offsides to the match officials. This replaces the manual effort taken in poring over replays for minutes on end.
- FIFA has made it clear that SAOT is only a confirmatory tool.
- SAOT is expected to aid such statistical thinking and data mining in football, in line with what is increasingly the Moneyball era of sports.