Positional tracking takes a big leap forward as latest generation is installed at Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 stadiums

15 April 2020 – The pioneering partnership between the DFL subsidiary Sportec Solutions and ChyronHego, the Stockholm-based firm that specialises in sports technology solutions, continues to break new ground, offering greater detail and scope than ever before.

Following a two-year research and development phase and a subsequent six-month evaluation period, the fifth generation of ChyronHego’s Technology & Engineering Emmy Award-winning TRACAB optical sports tracking system has been rolled out for use in all 36 Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 stadiums. Transitioning from the fourth generation of the technology, TRACAB Gen 5 has introduced a number of improvements in the positional tracking of players, ball and match officials in a live situation for the purpose of real-time data collection and analysis. These include using completely redesigned tracking algorithms and a wider variety of camera positions and angles, as well as new artificial intelligence (AI) features that, for instance, enable player, number and colour recognition.    

Every stadium has been fitted with up to 20 new cameras on both sides of the pitch, behind each goal and behind the corner posts, depending on the layout of each site. The optimal camera locations were determined in consultation with the clubs and stadium operators, guaranteeing that players and officials can be successfully and correctly identified every 1/25 of a second during the match. Using 16 to 20 HD cameras with 32 million pixels, approximately 3.5 million data points can be delivered to live applications during a match within 150 milliseconds.

The advanced image-processing technology has also been validated by academia. Both the DFL, through their partnership with the Technical University of Munich, and FIFA, working closely with Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, have confirmed that TRACAB Gen 5 is a very accurate tracking technology.

The system uses the latest AI techniques in computer vision and machine learning to calculate the position of a player, referee or ball, but also to provide more advanced features of 3D pose estimation and skeletal modelling for a wide range of diverse future applications. At each stadium, the data is transmitted via a fibre optic cable to a central server room, where it is processed. The server uses the incoming video signals to determine the position of players, officials and the ball every 40 milliseconds. From here the data is delivered directly to systems in the stadium, but also to the relevant DFL systems, where it can then be used for detailed analysis of Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 action.