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The Revolution of Umpiring with Smart Ball Technology by Sportable

The Revolution of Umpiring with Smart Ball Technology by Sportable

In a recent episode of the Ministry of Sport podcast, Lachlan Wills sat down with Stirling Mortlock, former Wallabies captain and current head of XV Capital, and Alex Chalmers, managing partner at Stadia Ventures, to discuss innovations in sports technology. One of the standout topics was the implementation of smart ball technology by Sportable, a company at the forefront of this revolution.

The integration of computer chip technology into sports balls is set to revolutionise the way sports are played and officiated. According to Mortlock, Sportable’s smart ball technology has the potential to change the landscape of sports umpiring significantly. This technology is already making waves in major sports leagues, including Australian Rules Football (AFL), Rugby Union, and soon, other sports like soccer and American football.

“Sportable’s smart ball technology is really going to be a global game-changer. It’s being trialed and implemented into Australia’s biggest domestic sporting code, AFL,” Mortlock explained. “The technology allows for precise tracking of the ball’s movement, providing accurate data that can assist in making more informed umpiring decisions.” The journey to integrating this technology hasn’t been without its challenges. Initially, AFL was hesitant about adopting such innovations due to past unsuccessful attempts. However, through XV Capital’s network and collaboration with partners like Eddie McGuire and Victoria University, the technology is now being implemented in a joint venture with AFL. Mortlock shared, “The AFL previously tried putting a chip in the ball, and it didn’t work. They basically told supporters to sod off. But when we partnered with Sportable, we went back to AFL, and now it’s a joint venture.”

The potential for this technology extends beyond Australian borders. Sportable’s smart balls are gaining attention from major global sports brands like Nike and Adidas, who are competing to use this technology in soccer. This international interest underscores the universal appeal and applicability of the technology across different sports. Chalmers added, “Having the AFL in Australia is huge, and it’s a testament to the potential of smart ball technology. We’re also seeing interest from American football, soccer, and a swathe of other organisations.”

The implementation of smart ball technology by Sportable is a significant step towards enhancing the accuracy and reliability of umpiring in sports. By providing real-time data on the ball’s movement, this innovation promises to reduce human error and improve the overall fairness of sports competitions. As more sports organisations adopt this technology, the impact on the sports industry will be profound, setting a new standard for how games are played and officiated.

You can listen to the full episode of the Ministry of Sport podcast featuring Stirling Mortlock and Alex Chalmers here.

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