Every four years, national soccer–or football as the rest of the world calls it–teams from across the globe duke it out to determine the best square on the planet. An estimated one billion viewers will be glued to their seats watching the action that kicks off today in Brazil, nearly 900 million more than who tuned in for this year’s Super Bowl.
With the excitement of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in full swing, I thought this might be a good time to remind everyone of the real unsung hero behind this year’s matches: technology! Here is a sampling of some of the technology behind the scenes at this year’s World Cup.
No more bad calls. Thanks to new wearable smartwatches, referees in Rio de Janeiro won’t have to trust their own eyes on whether the ball crosses the goal line. The smartwatches used in Brazil are made by a German company called GoalControl, which installed 14 cameras that track the ball around the pitch. The watches will vibrate and display the word “GOAL” each time the ball crosses the goal line. Good news for fans still enraged over the infamous bad call made during the 2010 in London when England was denied a score in a match against Germany, even though the ball had clearly passed the goal line.
Crowd control. With tens of thousands of excited soccer fans descending upon the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha stadium in Brazil, crowd safety is of utmost importance. With past tragedies in mind, the structural integrity of the facility is critical. Fortunately the stadium has been analysis validated that the fierce Brazilian winds won’t impact the safety for spectators and teams. Simulation specialists at ANSYS channel partner ESSS used ANSYS CFD software to predict airflow around the stadium and pressure on the stadium roof. The specialists also used ANSYS FEA software to study the combined effects of wind, stadium infrastructure and a traditionally rowdy crowd. Engineers completed the analysis in two weeks – about one-tenth the time required for traditional wind-tunnel validation – for 66 percent lower costs compared to physical testing methods.
Bend it like Beckham. The curl obtained with the inside of the soccer cleat, or football boot, which was made somewhat famous by David Beckham, and the curl with the the outside of the cleat, is due to the Magnus effect. The effect, named after the scientist who first observed the effect in a lab in the 1850s, explains the side-force on a sphere that is both rotating and moving forward. Check out this blog by COMSOL to see how the company used its multi physics software to analyze the World Cup match ball.
Turf wars. Real turf fields are pretty to look at, but high-maintenance costs lead to the investigation into alternative artificial surfaces. The first attempt in 1981 in London failed miserably. The surface brought on odd bounces and an increased likelihood of injuries. In 1996 a successful hybrid grass system was introduced, featuring millions of synthetic fibers injected into natural grasses. These hybrid systems can take up to three times more wear and tear than natural grass and can be installed in as little as three weeks. A Dutch company METAL Machinebouwers used Solidworks CAD software to design the machines used in the first stage of the installation process: creating the artificial fibers that will be planted into the ground.