Speed Tracker to be introduced at India Open

A speed-tracking system will be in place on Friday at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open flashing out smash speeds live on screen.

PTI| Updated: Mar 26, 2015, 22:48 PM IST
Speed Tracker to be introduced at India Open

New Delhi: A speed-tracking system will be in place on Friday at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open flashing out smash speeds live on screen.

This is the first badminton event where the tracker -- developed by Hawk-Eye Innovations -- will go live, following tests at five tournaments.

In the men's game, smashes have consistently been recorded in the region of 340-360kph (the fastest being around 400kph), making badminton not just the fastest racket sport, but possibly the fastest sport in the world.

The system consists of at least two high-frame-rate cameras mounted above the court. The shuttle at any point in its trajectory is tracked, showing the astonishing speeds at which it is hit.

The equally impressive reaction times that are required to keep the rally going can also be calculated and displayed. The cameras used for speed tracking are different from those used for instant reviews.

Badminton Operations Manager at Hawk-Eye Innovations, Lee Jones explained the system was developed in recent months and tested at five events -- Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2014 (New Delhi), BWF World Championships 2014 (Copenhagen), Denmark Open 2014 (Odense), BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals 2014 (Dubai) and All England Open 2015 (Birmingham).

"We have done a lot of development work in the office over the last year. Tracking a shuttle is much harder than tracking a tennis ball for example due to the nature of a shuttle's flight path. A ball has a pre-determined path most of the time whereas a shuttle is much more unpredictable," Jones said.

The tracker is customised to record a shuttle's whole flight path and can show the speed in real time at any point along the flight path. The system can therefore identify the exact point of impact the shuttle makes with the racket by analysing the inbound and outbound track from when a shot is played.

The speed at which the shuttle leaves the racket is then calculated based on this tracking data and the speed is calculated and available immediately.

"BWF is constantly looking for ways to enhance and optimise the spectator experience, both in-venue and for those watching our broadcast coverage. We are pleased with this development and look forward to the spectators' reactions and, of course, to the players' response. I'm sure it's something they too will enjoy, especially the big smashers in badminton," said BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund.

"Speed is one of the big selling points of our sport -- it's the fastest racket sport in the world. Now we will be able to show those numbers in graphics and TV can overlay that in a live production," noted Lund.

Given hard hitters like two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark featuring at the Yonex-Sunrise India Open, the speed tracker may be in for a lightning-fast start, bringing even more bang and buzz to badminton.