1st and 10

Posted by Lori Yaverbaum

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December 11, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Just as I Am Not a Techie, I am also not a sports fanatic. I certainly know enough to hold my own based on trying to hang with a variety of boyfriends over the years, but, truth be told, sports are just not my thing. I’d choose the mall over a football game any day of the week with two exceptions—Penn State and the Patriots. I am loyal to a fault and have sat through every type of traffic and weather just to watch these two teams play live. That is, at least when I was younger. Today, I admit, I prefer watching in the comfort and convenience of my living room.

As I was watching the Patriots last night, I noticed a time or two when the virtual yellow line that appears as the first-down marker didn’t show up on the TV screen. It frustrated me, and I realized that I’ve come to rely on that line. At one point, one of the guys watching with me actually said something about it being too bad that the players can’t see the line. And it got me wondering: is it really just a simple process to have that line appear to be on the field?

I did a little research and found that this yellow line is quite the sophisticated adaptation of technology. It’s not just a yellow line painted on a screen. Some elements that the “line-painting system” needs to know in order to get that line to display correctly include:

  • The orientation of the field in relation to the camera so that the line is painted in the correct perspective
  • Camera movements, which need to be gauged and continually recalculated
  • The angles of all the cameras that show the field from many different perspectives—all of which affect the calculations
  • The precise knowledge of where every yard line is relative to every camera
  • Variances in the architecture of the various fields (e.g., There’s a very slight curve in the middle of outdoor fields to allow rain to run off; therefore, the line displayed cannot be truly straight.)
  • Whether any persons/objects are standing or have been placed on the actual field, such as players, the referee, or the ball, which cannot be covered by the virtual yellow line

I further investigated and found that the system requires a 3-D model of the field, in conjunction with eight different computers, and four people to run it on game day to capture all the information and draw that line. Guess I should be a little more forgiving when it misses one or two plays!

So my nontechie friends, if you think you’re not at all interested in “computer-generated video effects,” I would bet that you are not only interested in this technology, but that you also embrace it. Because who doesn’t love that yellow line?

For me, a few lessons came out of all this:

  • We love technology that we don’t need to learn.
  • We love technology that we don’t notice.
  • We love technology that enhances our experiences.

What do you think?

What’s the most recent experience you’ve enjoyed? Can you figure out how technology has contributed to it without your explicit knowledge or any frustration on your part? Tell us about it.

Topics: Technology

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