Incident 80: AI mistakes referee’s bald head for football — hilarity ensued
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Scottish soccer team Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club uses cameras with AI ball-tracking to livestream their matches on YouTube. In a 2020 match against Ayr United, a camera repeatedly tracked an official’s bald head, thinking it was the soccer ball.
In a Scottish soccer match the AI-enabled ball-tracking camera used to livestream the game repeatedly tracked an official’s bald head as though it were the soccer ball.
AI System Description
AI ball-tracking techology using video feed to determine and follow a ball in order to keep the game in focus
Sector of Deployment
Arts, entertainment and recreation
Relevant AI functions
Perception, Cognition, Action
image classification, image recognition
Inverness, Scotland, UK
Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club, Ayr United, YouTube
Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club
video feed, pre-tagged soccer match imagery
Technology in sports is a beautiful thing, but sometimes even the greatest inventions can go wrong. This happened over the weekend in a soccer game in Scotland, when an AI-controlled camera got confused, and thought a lineman’s bald head was the ball.
The camera was programmed to automatically follow the ball, removing the need for a human camera person. Outside of taking a person’s job, it seems kind of neat in theory. The issue was that the camera couldn’t tell the difference between the ball and the bald head, continually focusing on a man standing around not doing much, rather than actually let fans see the action.
To make matters worse Scotland is under strict social distancing measures. With no fans in attendance this was the only ways for fans of Iverness and Ayr United to watch the match, and instead they were treated to 90 minutes of head watching.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle don’t employ a cameraman as their camera is programmed to follow the ball throughout the match. The commentator had to apologise today as the camera kept on mistaking the ball for the linesman’s head... pic.twitter.com/LeKsc2bEj7— Tom Cox (@seagull81) October 24, 2020
Let this be a small moment of zen. We know, at least for now, that robots can’t take all of our jobs — yet.
Top football leagues and teams around the world have TV crews and streaming services at their disposal to broadcast matches to fans across the globe. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, smaller football teams are relying on AI-powered cameras to cast live matches through YouTube.
While it’s a fantastic and pocket-friendly idea for smaller clubs to show their games, sometimes AI can frustrate everyone. Scottish team Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club had deployed such a camera to live-stream their match against Ayr United.
The camera was supposed to track the ball automatically using AI and show footage on YouTube. However, the camera’s AI thought a bald linesman’s head was the ball, and repeatedly kept showing him instead of the ball in play. Fans were not happy about this, and they had to even miss the team’s lone goal because of the glitch.
You can see the highlights from the AI camera to see how the focus kept shifting from the game to the referee. If this happened in any of the higher up leagues, officials would’ve had a field day answering fans and media.
This also goes to show that while ball tracking in different sports is fairly common by now, we can still have glitches likes these. Hopefully, the camera provider will fix this bug and bald sports stars won’t be in focus for the wrong reasons.
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