Hikvision cameras look to the future of football
Working with premier football club AFC Ajax to revolutionise game analysis
Hikvision has become an Official Sponsor of Dutch top tier football club Ajax. As part of the agreement. The company is building an innovative showcase in the field of camera technology with the club. Both in the ArenA stadium in Amsterdam and on the club’s training grounds – the ‘Sport Complex of the Future’. Together with the Ajax Performance Team, ground-breaking monitoring of training and soccer matches will be carried out using Hikvision cameras in partnership with software from video analysis experts GameOn. This powerful combination will deliver even better analyses, in turn further improving the game.
There are various challenges facing performance coaches,like Max Reckers, Ajax’s Performance Technologist. “Firstly there are physical issues, like where to position a camera. There’s not enough space on the midline, and mounting cameras on training ground poles make them too close to get a good view. There’s also the question of manpower, since a camera operator (or operators) would be needed constantly. Existing analysis tools are too time-consuming and their process is not flexible enough. They also don’t provide real-time feedback."
To overcome these challenges, a solution was needed that provides a 180 degree view covering the whole playing field. It would also be necessary to be able to track the players accurately as they crisscross the pitch. In order to achieve these things, a camera would need to be placed near the field, in a suitable vantage point, and the system would need to work seamlessly with software to track the players and allows in-match and post-match analysis.
Performance managers like Reckers can do effective analysis and are able to present interesting findings, a recording facility is vital, and clarity of image is always a plus when dealing with such a fast-paced game with various moving elements!
Within Ajax we are always looking for the best solution that provides the best analysis tool.
The solution came through collaboration – Hikvision cameras and GameOn analysis software.
A 24MP PanoVu camera was installed, both in all training pitches at the ‘Sportcomplex of the Future’ and the main Ajax stadium in Amsterdam. The cameras were positioned so that the whole pitch could be seen – possible due to the panoramic nature of the camera. These cameras also provide very clear images – with four lenses of 6MP each, making a total of 24MP - one of the highest definition PanoVu cameras in the industry. The cameras have a frame per second rate of 30, meaning that nothing will be missed.
The normal image from a PanoVu camera is slightly bent – or ‘warped’ - so specialised software from GameOn and TNO came into play to stitch the streams from the four lenses together to complete the full detailed view of the entire pitch. This software also “dewarps” the images, further improving it. GameOn’s software adds a ‘virtual PTZ’ function which allows the software to zoom into specific players and track them on the field.
The NVR applied to the solution brings full flexibility, allowing operators to save the images. This also means that previous images and recordings can be easily retrieved.
The combination of cutting-edge Hikvision technology and the latest software from Game On allows Ajax to track players across the pitch, both in training and matches. This will really make a big difference to the way Ajax sees its games, and advises its players to become even more competitive – hopefully with the knock-on effect of making on of the most popular spectator sports become even more exciting.
Reckers added: “We are amazed by the Hikvision technologies which we recently have implemented at our training ground and stadium. The PanoVu camera is opening an entirely new world for us in the world of Performance Analysis. Being able to capture the full pitch at high resolution is simplifying our analysis process so much. Being able to provide real-time feedback to coaches and players empowers us even more.”
Derek Yang, President of Hikvision Europe, says: “This is an interesting project for us because it shows a whole new application for our technologies. Working with Ajax, TNO and GameOn has been a revelation, and we’re thrilled that Hikvision’s cameras could play such a central part in this sports solution. We are now looking to the future and are planning to use the cameras to detect goals and to predict the best way to pass the ball.”