Soccer ball

AI-powered camera mistook referee’s head for soccer ball

As the world begins to slowly cede control of everything to artificial intelligence, there are bound to be growing pains. When a Scottish football team upgraded their stadium with games broadcast live using an AI-powered ball tracking camera, they got did not realize that, to a computer, a referee with shaved skin and / or bald head would be almost indistinguishable of a soccer ball.

As part of efforts to increase social distancing and protect his fans, a few weeks ago the Scottish Football Club Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC announcement that he would broadcast live all home games in his Sta Caledoniandium to subscription holders or to those who wish to watch a specific match via a pay-per-view service. As part of the initiative, the club also revealed that it will replace human camera operators with a new automatic camera system from a company called Pixellot who takes advantage artificial intelligence to follow the ball on the field and automatically keep the important action centered on the screen.

At least, that was the plan.

According to Pixellot website, to date, over 500,000 sporting events have been broadcast using its AI-powered camera technology, but for some reason a recent game between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ayr United has proven too difficult for the system to do its job properly. It wasn’t the weather that complicated things, but rather, one of the linesmen sported a bald head that was apparently just shiny enough and just round enough to be mistaken for a soccer ball.

YouTuber Chuckiehands edited together a highlight reel of the Pixellot system struggling to stay focused on the real ball throughout the game. It mostly did its job as it should, but every now and then when the ball was obscured by players or shadows, the camera quickly readjusts and momentarily moves towards the linesman at the bottom of the screen. before refocusing and returning to ball again.

As frustrating as it must have been to pay the fans on the squad trying to watch the action at home, it’s also a funny example of why Based solely on on artificial intelligence, especially in its early days, is not the best approach. But it’s an uplifting tale, too much: If a computer has such a hard time distinguishing a human head from a soccer ball, do we really want self-driving cars that make the judgment calls our roads?