An Israeli company has developed a low cost computer vision based tracking and analysis system for amateur tennis players. Called Smart Court, the system provides instant replay, line calls and performance analysis - tools that until now have been only been accessible to the world's tennis elite. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: Line calls have led to both triumph and despair on the tennis court. These days a $100,000 camera system called Hawk-Eye has the last word on whether a ball is in or out in professional tennis. Now an Israeli company is bringing digital precision and tracking technology to the amateur game. It's called Smart Court, a computer vision based system, that according to its creator Chen Shachar, has much of the same functionality as a hawk-eye system -- but at a fraction of the price. Along with ending heated arguments over where a ball landed, he says the system can be used as a training tool as well. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PLAYSIGHT CEO CHEN SHACHAR SAYING: "We installed six cameras like this one which record and analyse in real time the whole movement and activity of the players." The system then breaks down a player's performance and generates statistical information that players can use to improve their game. UPSOUND 'You got better percentages, you got 94 percentages on your backhand, then your forehand' The stats can be accessed with a kiosk system on the side of the court... but it is also stored on a server where players can keep an online profile to track their performance over time, according to trainer Yair Assaf. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YAIR ASSAF, PLAYSIGHT EMPLOYEE AND TENNIS TRAINER, SAYING: "Instead of just speaking or using my voice I could take them to the kiosk and just show them exactly what I want them to do." But it's the system's ability to track performance in real time that has people excited - with some of tennis's biggest stars, like world number 1 Novak Djokovic, funding the company. To date the company has installed 80 courts around the world but Shachar says that number is ready to jump. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PLAYSIGHT CEO CHEN SHACHAR SAYING: "Our plans for the next two years is to install at least 2,000 courts and our vision is to install between 4,000 and 5,000 Smart Courts only in tennis in the next four years." Shachar says the system should be able to serve up revenues upwards of $10 million within five years.