World Cup passes on smart soccer ball

High-tech ball sends a radio signal to a referee's watch when the ball crosses the goal line

World Cup soccer players should be happy: A new chip-enabled soccer ball won't be ready for use at the World Cup soccer tournament in Germany this June, according to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

The world soccer body also took a pass on using the ball at the FIFA Club World Championship games in Tokyo this past December. "The technology isn't perfect yet," says Jan Runau, a spokesman with sportswear manufacturer Adidas-Salomon AG, which supplies the official game balls for the tournaments. "We have to be 1,000 percent certain that it works perfectly before we can deploy it in professional soccer games." He declined to say when that would be.

Engineers working on the smart ball had hoped it would be ready for the World Cup tournament. The technology is based on an application-specific integrated circuit chip (radio frequency identification chips are one example) with a transmitter to send data. The chip, suspended in the middle of the ball to survive acceleration and hard kicks, sends a radio signal to the referee's watch when the ball crosses the goal line. Similar chips, but smaller and flatter, have been designed for players' shin guards.

The ball is being developed by Adidas, the Fraunhofer Institute and software company Cairos Technologies AG.

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