Top-10 Technological Innovations in Sports

Matt Sheehan@@MattSheehan333Analyst IJune 7, 2011

Top-10 Technological Innovations in Sports

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    INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 14:  A detail of the backboard and shot clock as a basketball goes thru the hoop as the Michigan State Spartans play against the Ohio State Buckeyes during their semifinal game of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fie
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Today’s modern world absolutely loves technology. If you don’t believe me then go to your nearest Apple store when they launch a new product, and I guarantee you will see more people there than five Starbucks can hold.

    Sure iPhones, GPS’s and all other gadgets are sweet to have, but electronic gadgets and gear have impacted sports almost as much as any other aspect of society. In this countdown we analyze the best invention in every sport and put them up against one another and crown the top ten most influential technological innovations in modern-day sports.

10. Computerized Scoring- Bowling

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    WICHITA, KS - OCTOBER 26:  Norm Duke rolls a strike in the finals of the PBA World Championships held at the Northrock Lanes on October 26, 2008 in Wichita, Kansas. (Photo by Craig Hacker/Getty Images for PBA)
    Craig Hacker/Getty Images

    To start off this list, let’s talk about a piece of technology that helps the Average Joe more than the professional.

    Now sports are for everyone (whether you call bowling a sport or not is your decision) and the difficulty of keeping score manually can put people off of the game. Bowling, in particular, can be difficult for the infrequent alley visitor to score, and throwing a computer into the equation eases the pain of scoring by 100 percent.

    Having a computer keep the score for you can keep all your focus on your next ball rather than adding and multiplying pins.

9. Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS)- Auto Racing

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    COLOGNE, GERMANY - JANUARY 15: In this handout picture the engine of the new TF109 is seen during the Panasonic Toyota Formula One Grand Prix team launch of the TF109 race car for the 2009 season at the Toyota Motorsport Racing head quarter on January 15,
    Handout/Getty Images

    Used in Formula One racing, this 35-kilogram car part “recovers the kinetic energy that is present in the waste heat created by the car’s braking process,” according to Formula One’s website.

    In Lehman’s terms, it takes the energy used when a car brakes and uses it later on to boost acceleration.

    KERS was first introduced in 2009, then later dropped in 2010, and is now optional for teams in the 2011 season. The main reason a team would opt not to use a KERS is because of the weight it carries.

    The reason why this device makes the list, however, is because it carries two advantages. One is that KERS makes for a more environmentally friendly race, something that F1 is aiming to take seriously in the near future. The second motive is it gives drivers the chance to use their boost to either catch up to the leader down the stretch, or pull away from the pack in the final lap, leading to more exciting finishes.

8. Radar Gun- Baseball

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    A baseball scout behind homeplate is armed with a pen and a radar gun  March 8, 2004 during  a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Some may say that homerun review should succeed this, but since baseball is a very traditionalist sport and homerun reviews rarely happen, the radar gun gets the nod for baseball.

    Every single pitch speed is documented and analyzed by the pitcher’s team and opposing batters. The radar gun allows pitchers and their organizations to track development and pitch speed can either make or break a pitcher looking to make it into the Majors.

    Hitters arguably use the radar gun more than pitchers do, because they can use it to examine the other starting pitcher and even use it to test their bat speed just as religiously as a pitcher would test their pitching speed.

7. Multi-Faced Above the Rim Shot Clock- Basketball

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    INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 14:  A detail of the backboard and shot clock as a basketball goes thru the hoop as the Michigan State Spartans play against the Ohio State Buckeyes during their semifinal game of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fie
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Back then in the days of yore, shot clocks were set on the ground in the corner of the court. This was an obvious problem since it could be a visual obstruction if there are five or six players standing in the way.

    Then came the above the rim shot clock, but even that had its downfalls. If someone was setting up for a baseline three-pointer, who knows how much time is left on the clock since it only faces the other basket.

    Now the shot clock that you most commonly see is the three or even four-sided shot version, giving players and even fans an all-around view of how much time they have to launch a shot. This 360 view may not be the saving grace for every play, but it has evolved for the better through the years and has made the game a whole lot better.

6. Above the Net Camera- Hockey

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    UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 27:  Brent Johnson #1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins tends net against Matt Moulson #26 and John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on November 27, 2009 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Definitely not the most complex device on the list, but definitely one of the most game-changing.

    Having a camera above the net is primarily used to see what goals passed the line, if it beat the clock, etc., just very basic events. The camera-evidence has changed the outcome of numerous games, all for the better since it gives an indubitable answer whether or not the rubber passed the line.

5. Photo Finishes- Olympic and Animal Racing

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07:  The pack of horses races past the finish line during the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Photo finishes aren’t only in horseracing, they are also in track and field. Sure electronic timers are helpful, but when two runners are tied up in the same hundredth of a second the officials go to the cameras, which today shoots 3,000 frames per second. That’s why in some races two athletes or horses display the same time, but one gets crowned over the other.

    With 3,000 frames a second, there is no way to go wrong, unless you have really poor vision. This innovation also tackles every type of racing, whether it be swimming, running, and especially horse racing.

4. The Television- Golf

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    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28:  Ian Poulter of England with refree Andy McFee as a penlaty shot is called during the second play-off hole during the play-off during the final round of the Dubai World Championship on the Earth Course, Jumeirah
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    That tube you were watching thirty minutes ago? That has played a major role in the sport that sticks to its traditions the most.

    Over time we have all heard a story or two about a viewer that has called in to the tournament and reported an infraction by a golfer (talk about snitching). Controversy and fan-ethics aside, the television by far has made its mark in the sport of golf.

    Golf is just about the only sport where this can happen on multiple occasions, because you don’t see basketball fans call in a traveling call every ten seconds. Golf is a very slow-paced and rule-oriented game that can be changed by just one long distance phone call by a very avid golf junkie.

3. The Headset- Football

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers talks into his headset against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Whether coaches use it to communicate or slam against the ground is up to them, but either way the headset is the best technology football has to offer.

    The uses can be infinite, all of which are helpful. Coaches up in the press box can see aerial views of the game, and with the headset they can relay information to the head honcho who may not be able to get that look at ground-level.

    Coaches to players on the sideline is another frequent exchange that occurs with the head piece, because after all the guy in the box definitely can see formations and tendencies the quarterback can’t see from behind the center. In the pros the quarterback and defensive coordinator can have a speaker in their helmet, which reduces confusion of calls sent by a messenger and also knocks down the barrier of crowd noise.

2. Cyclops and Hawkeye Tracking System- Tennis

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    LONDON - JUNE 25:   The hawkeye system displays a decision on the screen during the Men's Singles first round match between Tim Henman of Great Britain and Carlos Moya of Spain during day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England L
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Do you think John McEnroe would argue with a machine too?

    These two computerized ball trackers have changed the game of professional tennis forever, leading to precise calls and elimination of arguments.

    The first computerized system to come to surface was the Cyclops, a system of six infra-red beams that rest just a centimeter above the ground. If the ball was hit inside the court, all other beams outside the court would shut off. If the ball was hit just outside the court, a sound would project and the play would be stopped. Easy as that.

    A little more cutting-edge technology that is more commonly used now is the Hawkeye. The logistics of how this system works is a little more difficult, but in a nut shell its multiple cameras from several angles that project ball flight. The cameras then calculate a 3-D image of where the ball lands and is up to the player to challenge after close shots following the umpire’s initial call.

1. Heart Monitor- Training

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    NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 05:  Newcastle United striker Alan Smith pulls up his shirt to reveal a heart monitor during the Friendly Match between Newcastle United and Sampdoria at St James' Park on August 5, 22007 in Newcastle, England.
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    What a lifesaver, literally.

    Heart monitors help out the average jogger and all the way up to the elite athletes of today. These devices play a huge role in progressing in a workout plan if used to target certain heart rate. Without a heart monitor it would be difficult for athletes to track progress and sustainability of their exercise program.

    Some heart monitors also can be used to alert athletes of dehydration and malnutrition. A simple wrist or strap-on mechanism that can warn people of an unsafe workout or be a key factor in every exercise session gets the number one piece of technology in sports to this day. Technology that can enhance the calls of games are cool and helpful, but anything that promotes safety and progression at the same time is hard to argue with.