Cameras currently used by UK armed forces to spot the enemy in Afghanistan will be utilised at major cricket grounds around the world to help umpires decide if batsmen are in or out.
International defence technology firm SELEX Galileo, a Finmeccanica company, has signed an exclusive contract with cricket ‘Hot Spot’ provider BBG Sports to supply their SLX-Hawk InfraRed (thermal imaging) cameras.
The state of the art cameras are fitted to the Chinook helicopters flown by British Forces in Afghanistan. They are also used by ground patrols and are so powerful they can detect enemy forces up to 70km away- even in the dark.
The SLX Hawk has already been tested in play in Australia where commentators and fans have been stunned by the clear thermal images of critical match moments. They have most recently kept a watchful eye over England’s test matches against the West Indies and could soon make a return to all international cricket.
The ‘Hot Spot’ system uses thermal imaging cameras to detect contact between the cricket ball, bat and batsman during the game. However while the sometimes unclear pictures from the previous generation cameras have been criticised, new supplier SELEX Galileo’s military-spec cameras have been heralded by BBG sports as being astonishingly accurate.
Warren Brennan, CEO of BBG Sports, said: "There is no question that SELEX Galileo’s cameras are at least a generation in front of our earlier cameras and most likely two.
"In side-by-side comparisons the benefit of the SLX-Hawk was that there was no motion blur and the image was significantly sharper. This was evidenced by an extremely faint edge (as faint as we have ever seen)
being very sharp and clear like nothing we had ever seen before."
Kennedy McEwen, SELEX Galileo’s capability manager for EO imagers and detectors explained: "Our cameras are really top of the range. For cricket, the much higher shutter speed of our camera means you can actually track the ball in flight; previously the bat and ball was just a blur but now you can see the bat clearly hit the ball and can even see the heat from the ball’s impact mid-swing."
The exclusivity agreement also names SELEX Galileo as sole provider of cameras for the potential future use of HotSpot for other sports such as professional baseball games.