Sky Sports intros “Hot Spot” infrared tech for Cricket coverage

By Kevin Hilton

The cricket Test series between England and the West Indies gets underway on May May 17 with a first for British television and yet another way to undermine the position of the umpires. A new system called Hot Spot is based on infrared imaging technology and can determine if a batsman made contact with the ball and, if he did, whether it was with bat or pad.

This is the latest in a long line of technological innovations Sky Sports has introduced for TV coverage of cricket since the early 1990s. Last year brought both HD transmission and Hi Motion super-slow camera for instantaneous play-back. There will also be full interactive services for digital viewers, allowing them to view Hawkeye image positioning replays, highlights packages and a player database.

Like many technologies Hot Spot has evolved from military uses, being used originally for tracking tanks and jet fighters. In all its applications the technology is able to pinpoint and measure the heat caused by an impact, showing exactly where an object hit a surface. This spot appears as a white area on a negative-style background, hence the name of the system.

Hot Spot will be used through the summer during Sky Sports’ live coverage of the Test matches and one-day internationals (ODIs) between England and the West Indies, followed by the Test series and ODIs against India.

Coverage is being provided by 15 OB, VT and uplink trucks, 31 cameras, 41 microphones and specialist equipment such as the Hawkeye, all linked by 15 miles of cables and presided over by a production team of 80.