The National Football League's desire to bring technology to the game may be exciting to techie sports fans, but a recent report claiming that the league wants to put microchips into its footballs to increase referee accuracy could cause significant debate between the purists who welcome human error and those who want every call to be right.
According to Reuters, a German chip company called Cairos Technologies is currently in talks with the NFL to bring its microchip technology to footballs. The technology, which was originally designed for soccer balls, helps referees know when the ball has crossed a line. In soccer, the technology is used to help referees determine if a ball did, in fact, pass the goal line.
In American football, Cairos Technologies' technology would have a similar function. In an interview with Reuters, the company's sales director, Mario Hanus, said the chip could be especially useful for those times when a referee must determine if a ball crossed the first-down marker or goal line. If the ball does, in fact, pass the first-down or goal line, an alert would be sent from the microchip to the referee's watch. The idea is to take the element of human error out of the equation.
According to Reuters, the NFL wouldn't comment on whether chips would be coming to its footballs, but Hanus said his company is in discussions with the league to bring the technology to the sport.
The NFL would only say it's "always exploring ways in which we can be innovative with technology to improve our game and our fans' enjoyment of the game."
That's certainly true. Earlier this week, the Sunday Ticket To-Go service, which enables users to watch live games on smartphones or computers, including the iPad, was announced. It costs $50, plus a subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV's service, which costs $320. Last week, the New Meadowlands Stadium, home to the New York Giants and Jets, unveiled an in-stadium app that enables fans to get instant replays, watch other games, and see live stats from their smartphones in real time.
Whether the NFL will embed silicon in its footballs remains to be seen--the debate over getting every call right instead of allowing human error into the game will be heated--but given how dedicated to technology the sport is becoming, it certainly seems like the call could eventually be made.