In 2006, tennis fans were awed by a new technology that would help officials judge disputed line calls. The system, called "Hawk-Eye," added an incredible new facet to the sport. Players could now challenge questionable line calls. No more would players be held hostage by the imperfections of human judgement and eyesight. Technology was here to save the day.
Five years later, Hawk-Eye is the most successful example of technology being used to help officiate a sport. Not only is it accurate to within 3.6 millimeters, Hawk-Eye adds a new level of excitement to tennis. Challenges are displayed for all to see on television as well as on the stadium big screen. The crowd claps in unison and anxiously looks on as the ball flies through its trajectory from racket hit to court contact. Will it land in or out? What drama! The result is greeted by a raucous mixture of sighs, groans, cheers, or even colorful metaphors depending upon the outcome.
[Triangulation] is repeated for each frame so that the 3D positions of the
ball can be combined to produce a single trajectory of the flight of the
ball. The trajectory is then used to calculate an exact bounce contact area the ball made with the court.
"It's absolutely vital to have a health warning stamped on this becauseCollins and Evans released an in-depth review of Hawk-Eye in a recent issue of Public Understanding of Science, in which they pointed out the technology's flaws. The authors insisted that the use of Hawk-Eye represents a "false transparency" because it is used without offering "appropriate knowledge of its limitations." Thus, Hawk-Eye gives the impression that justice is being done when, in fact, it may not be.
what you see with Hawk-Eye doesn't always correspond to what's actually
happened," said Harry Collins, a social sciences professor at Cardiff
University. "When [Hawk Eye] says that a ball was 1 millimeter in, what they should say is that 'it was 1 millimeter in, we think.'"