The Stack Archive

Could technology boost England’s World Cup chances?

Fri 13 Jun 2014

With the World Cup starting yesterday, my thoughts this week turned to what brings us together as a global community rather than what tells us apart.

At the start of the week we covered how the test of telling apart the conversation of a 13 year-old Ukrainian boy from an imitating computer proved too much for a group of ‘experts’, and the Russian machine was hailed as being the first to beat the so-called Turing Test. 

As I explained this story to a friend – a father of a 13 year-old himself – he felt the test was pretty underwhelming in terms of complexity. “Once the computer has mastered “uhuh”, “whatever” and “that is so unfair” it’s pretty much got the whole vocabulary covered,” he said.   Other sceptics, too, condemned the test as having the integrity and rigour of a FIFA delegate vote.

Technology is playing an increasing role at the World Cup and Frank Lampard will be reassured there will no repeats of the “the ball did cross the line” travesty of 2010 which allowed Germany to scrape through, with the use of high speed cameras monitoring the goal lines. The eagle-eyed viewer will notice that the players all wear/carry tracking devices. In future, these sorts of devices could provide a lot more information if the wearable flexible electronic material being developed at Purdue University combines with the new breed of biosensor. We could soon be betting on just how many buckets Wayne Rooney does actually sweat for England or how big a feather needs to be to knock over Cristiano Ronaldo.

Such devices start to turn the human body in to part of the Internet of Things but they need power.  A young lad came up with a battery that could be charged by the wearer’s movement – so unlikely to be of much use to the England management – while another, more practical solution, in the form of ultracapacitors, although primarily aimed at smartphones, could find a role in extending battery life.

One bit of current technology that will not be finding its way on to the pitch this tournament will be Google Glass.  Wearers of the interface spectacles have been coming under fire recently, being mocked, vilified, mugged, banned, abused, starved, isolated, and ultimately cut off.  Possibly this is the sort of treatment that could be meted out to the England players should they fail to get passed the group stage – but, of course, that won’t be happening, will it?

Come on England!

Oh, by the way, the answer’s “probably not”.


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