What is ultra-edge technology in cricket? How does it work?

Most often, you might have come across the term “ultra-edge technology” while watching cricket matches. Especially, the ultra-edge technology in cricket used by the third umpires based on the request of players or teams to give fair play and accurate decision-making.

It is a part of the Decision Review System (DRS) in cricket that uses camera and sound technology attached to the stumps to give 100% correct results. But how do stump microphones and cameras play a crucial role in ultra-edge technology?

Typically, the dismissals wouldn’t appear with the naked eye. In other words, the match umpires feel that the ball didn’t touch the bat. Particularly, the ultra-edge technology in cricket can differentiate the sounds of clothes, bats, gloves, pads, and shoes.

Being a cricket fan, you might have wondered what is ultra-edge technology in cricket and how it works. However, you will learn who founded this technology and understand its basics. Also, it would be interesting to find the future of ultra-edge, by addressing its common issues and challenges.

What is an Ultra-edge technology in cricket? Who founded it?

Ultra-edge technology in cricket is an advanced version of the Snickometer used for edge detection. In other words, it is the method used to check the dismissal for a “caught-out” or “LBW dismissal” to find out if the bat touched the ball or not.

Allan Plaskett– a British computer scientist invented the technology  Snickometer and the UK Channel 4 used it in 1999.

The ICC approved the ultra-edge technology in 2015 after various tests and verification by the engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT).

How does Ultra-edge technology in cricket work? Understanding the Role of Stump Microphones and Cameras

Before understanding the working procedure of Ultra-edge technology, it is important to know the main roles of stump microphones and cameras.

Typically, the stump microphones and cameras are the two essential components of ultra-edge technology in cricket:

  1. Stump microphones: These are the microphones that are positioned along with the stumps behind the batsman. It records the sounds made throughout the game. In simpler terms, the microphone design helps to detect the tiniest edges in the bat and differentiate various sounds based on frequency level.

  2. Cameras: The cameras with high performance are set up at the underside of the stadium roof which tracks the ball from different angles. Third umpires usually merge the footage from these cameras to form a 3-dimensional model of the ball’s trajectory. The visual information assesses if the ball had contact with the bat or not.

Working procedure:

The cameras at the opposite end of the field accurately track the ball when it approaches closer to the bat for visual representation. To pick up the sound of the ball striking the bat to an oscilloscope, the stump microphone differentiates the sounds made by the bat and the pads.

When the bat touches the ball, the oscilloscope shows sound energy through visible waves to determine if the batsman is out.

Common issues with Ultra-edge technology in cricket?

The Ultra-edge technology has been impressive over these years. However, certain issues pose limitations to the effective use of Ultra-edge technology in cricket such as:

1. Technical glitches:  

Since ultra-edge technology depends heavily on sound, it can use glitches technically while functioning. The first glitch occurs before the ball touches the bat, thereby registering a spike. It happens due to the external sound factors at the time of bowling.

The second glitch arises when the bat and ball hit the ground simultaneously. In such cases, the detection of the bat’s sound can create confusion. 

Similarly, the third glitch shows up when the ball hits the body as well as the bat in closer range.  As a result, it can produce distortion in the detected sound lengths.

2. Ultra-edge vs Hotspot technology:  

Both ultra-edge and hotspot technology possess their strengths and weaknesses while detecting soft edges.

The hotspot implements infrared imaging to identify the heat created by the bat and ball friction. Conversely, the Ultra-edge relies more on sound frequencies. The heated debate arises in a few instances where the hotspot cannot detect any marks whereas the ultra-edge picks up the subtle sound.

How do we address the issues associated with Ultra-edge technology? 

The issues can be addressed with the frequent maintenance of the stump microphones which should be properly adjusted to ensure they pick only necessary sounds. 

Also, the third umpires must be able to figure out the sound effects and visual data to make decisions accurately. 

The ongoing improvements and the combination of other technologies help to overcome the present drawbacks.

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What is the future of Ultra-edge technology?

Since Ultra Edge has successfully improved the decision-making in cricket, you can expect that in future, many higher officials in sports like Football and Hockey will start implementing this most promising technology.

The ultra-edge technology in cricket is a game changer that provides real-time data, sound differentiation, and high-quality imaging.

Mainly, you should understand the fact that ultra-edge and various other technologies are used to assist umpires and not replace them permanently.

Finally, you can expect effective outcomes with the pairing of technology and human judgment.

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