- New technologies
Foxtenn, the Spanish system which is set to revolutionise the tennis world
Tennis is considered to have been a pioneering sport in terms of its use of technology to umpire those shots that are unclear during matches. As such, in 1980, Wimbledon was the first tournament to use the electronic system, Cyclops, based on infrared rays which measured whether the ball had landed in the court or not. Twenty-six years later Hawk-Eye arrived, technology which, by using data triangulation and arithmetic recreates the most probable path of the ball.
However, its reign is coming to an end. Hawk-Eye is now dated. It is now the turn of Foxtenn, a Spanish system which “is going to be a spectacular revolution. Both in terms of precision and in content, because people will be able to see things on television that have never been seen before”, declared its creator, Javier Simón.
This Barcelona citizen, the former vice-president of Danone Dairy and creator of the worldwide Actimel launch, amongst other roles, spent years working on a project which was truly to make a big impact on society and on the world of sport. Simón realised that “technology was not progressing at the same pace as the professionals or the increasing level of exigency in refereeing.”
For this reason, he has spent the past five years preparing “technology that was extremely demanding and precise in order to make umpiring easier and, at the same time, capable of providing information that would improve the development of the athletes.”
Endorsed by all of the large institutions
The system has already been used in public. Its debut was made in Spain, more specifically at the ITF Futures which the Catalan Tennis Federation organised in Cornellá last February. A tournament that will go down in history for having hosted the first official trial of the most advanced technology in the tennis world.
Foxtenn is not going to stop there and will soon be seen at many other competitions, since it has been endorsed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the four Grand Slams. In other words, all of the large ruling bodies of international tennis.
Furthermore, it is the only system which has been approved in the last 12 years. A period during which no company had managed to obtain international certification in order to be able to offer this kind of service. “This is because the tests are extremely hard,” points out Javier Simón, for whom, in total, it took two and a half years of grading, during which he had to face all kinds of high precision tests.
The search for the true bounce
However, what makes it so infallible? Well, as its CEO explains so well: “Foxtenn is based on the moment of truth. On the moment of the true bounce. We see the ball exactly when it bounces and we capture it exactly using more than 44 cameras”. A number of appliances that quadruples the recording by the Hawk-Eye, which has a maximum of ten cameras on court.
Each of the 44 cameras, 22 for singles matches, records 2500 photos per second y and they are flanked by a network of 10 high-definition synchronised lasers which make Foxtenn capable of capturing over 150,000 images per second. If this were not enough, it is all accompanied by servers which are capable of generating 12 billion calculations per second. “Both the lasers and the cameras and some of the other technology are designed by us and with our partners,” reveals the Catalan inventor.
Although the exact date when Foxtenn will be present on the main stages of international tennis is unknown, Javier Simón is clear about one thing: “being committed to good technologies is what is really going to change the sport. It will help it to be fairer and, of course, it will allow the public and the players to continue enjoying the sport, at the same time as developing it. Even better,” he concludes.