Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on the site on 18 June 2016 during the 2016 U.S. Open. It’s reprised because of the use of the technology in this year’s coverage of the Ryder Cup.
Paying attention (2016 U.S.Open Edition): As we move into a world in which virtual reality becomes one of the driving visual/computer forces in how we perceive and interact with the world around us, a look around at some of the technology that’s enhancing our world today–right his minute, now!– shows that visual enhancement technology has been closing in on us for quite some time. Especially in sports.
In tennis, for example, a system named HAWKEYE is used to handle the very difficult task of determining if a ball is in or is out. There’s an upcoming post about HAWKEYE and it’s technology, which is quite interesting. That post will go up when Wimbledon starts.
In golf, one of the systems du jour for enhanced visual presentation on televised events is a “launch monitor” named PROTRACER.
It was invented by Daniel Fosgren, who started working on the technology in 2003. Protracer enables the TV audience to see the flight of a ball after it is hit in real time; the technology is used most often in tracking tee shots, but it could track everything from a bunker shot to a shot out of boonies. It does not use radar (Trackman, a different system that generates a different set of data, uses radar). Protracer works by using a camera with a custom sensor that is keyed to following a white dot (the golf ball) through a continuous stream of frames (you know, of course, that motion pictures/television consists of a series of individual frames captured/played back at a pre-determined speed, 24 or 36 FPS; your mind combines these individual frames into a seamless mental representation of movement). The path and position of the ball from one frame to another are combined in real time to create the visual “tracer” effect that you see on television. GolfWRX did a very nice piece on Fosgren and his ProTracer technology. You can see Fosgren’s amazing technology at work all weekend on the telecasts of the U.S. Open golf tournament. What a wonderful enhancement to the sport, and special thanks to Daniel Fosgren who created it and went all-in to make it a commercial reality. Well done–TV golf wouldn’t the same without him.
The Fine Print: Image courtesy of Getty Images, the non-commercial bloggers best friend. Thanks, guys, for sharing (and for always having just the right image. If you’re a blogger and you’re not using Getty Images–check them out.