Hawk-eye challenged by FOXTENN in Metz

The Fox is now chasing the Hawk in the battle for electronic line-calling supremacy.

Since 2005, the Hawk-Eye electronic line calling system has been the standard in tennis. For more than a decade, it was the only system officially approved by the alphabet soup of tennis federations.


Until last December, when FOXTENN made the cut

The new system was tested at a Spanish Futures tournament it sponsored last February called the Open FOXTENN FCT (on hard court). As well, it was featured at the clay-court tournament in Barcelona this spring.

In Metz, France last week at the Moselle Open, the Fox battled the Hawk once again (good line, not ours).

According to Yahoo France, other than a few first-time glitches (such as some replays being slow to come up on the big screen), it seemed to work well.

FOXTENN CEO Simón says his system is more accurate than Hawk-eye (France3 Télévision)

It is scheduled to be used once against at the ATP Tour event in Antwerp, Belgium in a few weeks.

More accurate, and cheaper?

FOXTENN boasts its margin of error is better than that of Hawk-Eye. It uses slow-motion video replay, not graphically-recreated approximations of the ball’s trajectory.

A report on France 3 television says that 40 cameras are used, all synchronized with lasers. They’re capable of creating 2,500 images per second and producing four or five angles on each ball.

FOXTENN cameras are definitely more obtrusive than those of Hawk-eye. (France 3 Télévision)

The report also says the system was tested out on more than one million tennis balls, with the margin of error “reduced almost to zero.” It also is said to be cheaper than Hawk-eye to install.

“It allows us to see exactly when the ball impacts on the court, and not an estimate of the trajectory. It calculates exactly – in real time – the distance from the line,” FOXTENN CEO Javier Simón told France 3.

As an aside, the language used on the patent applications is hilariously obtuse.

In contrast, Hawk-Eye uses just 10 cameras. One thing’s for sure, the FOXTENN cameras are a lot bulkier. You have to look pretty hard, and know where to look, to find the Hawk-eye equipment on a court.

And the graphics are a little bulkier, too. There’s a whole lot going on there.

But any competition is a good thing. At the moment, the cost of installing Hawk-Eye on multiple courts is prohibitive for all but the richest tournaments.

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