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Timing Technology Behind Olympic Record Results

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the even-clocks-are-at-least-sixteen dept.

118

An anonymous reader writes "We've been on the edge of our seats cheering on the athletes at the Beijing Olympic games — but so often do athletes' victories and defeats rely on accurate timing. As the athletes compete on the world stage behind the scenes technology records their results. This interview with Omega's Christophe Berthaud (video) — the company's 23rd time as official Olympic timekeeper — explores how far the technology has come since the first time it was used in 1932."

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118 comments

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What? TFA? (5, Funny)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#24688925)

I swear I tried to RTFA, but.. uh.. it doesn't exist...

Re:What? TFA? (0)

mac123 (25118) | more than 5 years ago | (#24688993)

it's a video (as stated in the description)

Re:What? TFA? (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689029)

And, therefore, there can be no "if you actually rtfa, you'd see ..."

Come on, people, most of us are at work! This isn't IDLE.Slashdot

Re:What? TFA? (3, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689245)

So what you're complaining about is that something like "WTFV" isn't in our parlance? Well OK, here you go.
 
  Why don't you WTFV before posting!!!

Re:What? TFA? (4, Funny)

geobeck (924637) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690361)

Not being able to WTFV at work, I thought the "timing technology" behind Beijing's Olympic record results was what allowed them to instantly age their gymnasts from 14 to 16.

Re:What? TFA? (4, Funny)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690605)

... allowed them to instantly age their gymnasts from 14 to 16 ...

Do you think they could give Gary Glitter one of those?

Gary Glitter? (2, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692373)

... allowed them to instantly age their gymnasts from 14 to 16 ...

Do you think they could give Gary Glitter one of those?

If I understand the circumstances under which he was convicted, he'd only want it if he could run it in reverse. By several years.

Re:What? TFA? (1)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692741)

No, see you're thinking of the often hard-to-find "Communist^W National Pride Passport Generator 2.0".

Re:What? TFA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24695205)

Wouldn't 14 to 18 be more useful?

Re:What? TFA? (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689011)

Lame link to a video :|

Re:What? TFA? (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689737)

Who cares? Just watch it at home.

Huh? (-1, Flamebait)

gweihir (88907) | more than 5 years ago | (#24688933)

I thought victories rely on biochemical enhancements today, i.e. doping?

Personally, these Olympics are a non-event, except for China showing that they are really as twisted and corrupt as everybody thought before.

Re:Huh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689481)

LOL what a fag. You're probably just a fat, nerdy, slob who's fastest "dash" was to the fridge.

Re:Huh? (0, Flamebait)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689547)

"I thought victories rely on biochemical enhancements today, i.e. doping?"

At least 5 athletes have been kicked out for doping, and presumably anyone who does get to a final would automatically have to pass a doping test. Usain Bolt certainly didn't need to dope to break the 100m record, look at the size of him. What he did was partly down to his frame, but then the rest of it was down to pure training and determination as it's harder for lanky guys to develop good sprinting technique.

Personally, these Olympics have been full of pretty amazing feats by several athletes from my own country (Scotland/UK) and other countries and I've found them enjoyable to watch.

It's a good thing they didn't try to host them in the US or anything, otherwise I hope you'd consider them a non-event because of all the corruption going on in the US government. But somehow I doubt it.

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689571)

Personally, these Olympics have been full of pretty amazing feats by several athletes from my own country (Scotland/UK) and other countries and I've found them enjoyable to watch.

Agree to a point, but there have been several instances where the judging was just painfully bad [/canadian viewpoint]

Re:Huh? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#24693481)

Judging is always like that. Thats why so many people want the judged sports gone entirely.

Re:Huh? (0, Offtopic)

mickisdaddy (892920) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689729)

There is just as much coruption in any government as there is in the US.

Re:Huh? (0, Troll)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690097)

So what you're saying is that the US government is either the least corrupt or the least-equal corrupt of all governments? I highly doubt it. Just look at that whole Whitehouse email fiasco :/ I'm not claiming that my country is perfect, but it's just sad that Americans tend to bang on about liberty, democracy, the constitution, blah blah blah - meanwhile their government is walking all over them.

Re:Huh? (1)

mickisdaddy (892920) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691003)

That is not what I said. What I said is that the US is not the only corrup government.

I know that there is corruption in my government. It sickens me some of the things that go on. We have a president with a bad approval rating and we have a congress with and even worse approval rating, but when it comes to the voting booth then same idiots get re-elected.

I am seriously considering voting 3rd party in this presidential election.

Re:Huh? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691229)

wow. you're last sentence reflected so much of what is wrong in this country.

Re:Huh? (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692363)

Luckily, you stepped in to cover grammar and lack of proper capitalization. Between you two and my asshole behavior here, I think we've got almost everything.

Re:Huh? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#24694169)

godwin didn't show up yet. but give him time.

Re:Huh? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#24693901)

What, pray tell, is wrong with voting for a third party?

Re:Huh? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#24694149)

nothing. it's the fact that (a) you're only 'seriously considering' voting 3rd party, and (b) 'seriously considering voting 3rd party' is considered a strange, or even extreme, option.

Re:Huh? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#24695055)

But why is it strange and/or extreme? In my country, we have several major political parties, and it is not uncommon to see three way races.

Re:Huh? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692427)

logically what you said is that the US is either the least or least equal corrupt government :p If you said 'most governments' instead of 'any government' then it would be different.

We are stuck with the same "2 major parties" here in the UK as well. I don't think a "one or the other" party is going to well-represent my views on any spectrum of topics.. as people say, the system kind of sucks but it's the best we can come up with so far!

Not accurate. Consistent. (4, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689043)

Winning Olympic events that involve fastest finish have nothing to do with accurate timing. Getting a world record might but everything about getting a medal is relative to your performance against your peers. Consistency is all that matters. And given that most of these events are run in qualifying heats, consistency between separate races is often not a factor. Even in race Phelps won by 0.01 seconds, the photo finish was just as telling as the actual clock results.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (3, Interesting)

Lucid 3ntr0py (1348103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689381)

Specifically concerning the race which Phelps one by .01 seconds, even with all the photo documentation [cnn.com] and the under water video, it was difficult to determine who did what first.

While I agree with you that timing isn't important during a contest that is head to head with a peer, this electronic timing/reporting is very helpful in events such as fencing, and swimming as the Phelps case proves.

Now if we could trust the IOC to not allow corruption, I'ld like to see more electronical surveillance in other events, such as tennis (perhaps on the rackets) and also track (maybe on the blocks to see who actually is leaving first).

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (4, Informative)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689549)

also track (maybe on the blocks to see who actually is leaving first)

This is already done - they no longer rely on human judging to determine false starts

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

Lucid 3ntr0py (1348103) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689695)

I wasn't think for false starts, more for actual time spent completing the race. This of course wouldn't be in any record books, but would be very helpful for useless commentary.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692367)

Does anyone else think the false start thing in track is kind of silly? They charge the first false start to the "field"? So there's some incentive for people who will likely lose to false start once just in hopes of messing others up.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

jdschulteis (689834) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689719)

[...] Now if we could trust the IOC to not allow corruption, I'ld like to see more electronical surveillance in other events, such as tennis (perhaps on the rackets) and also track (maybe on the blocks to see who actually is leaving first).

I eagerly await the day that high res, high speed video cameras and sophisticated software can finally provide objective results for sports like gymnastics and diving.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (3, Informative)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690735)

... I'ld like to see more electronical surveillance in other events, such as tennis ...

HawkEye [hawkeyeinnovations.co.uk] . Used in Wimbledon and all the grand slam events. Used for the first time in the Beijing olympics.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691553)

machines are not perfect [slashdot.org] either

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689387)

Uh, did you watch any of the track events? In the preliminary rounds, the winners (1st, 2nd, sometimes 3rd and 4th) of each heat go to the next round, along with the next fastest times from all the heats. Thus, accurate timing is vital.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689513)

Except in ensuring a legal start. These need to be done by timer. It'd be intersting to see what the individual times bettwen leaving hte platform and wall touch are. Was Phelps the faster swimmer or starter, not that it matters other than being academic? You can't tell without synching with the start timer.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (3, Informative)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689849)

They do collect all that information. They know how long it takes someone to leave the platform, how long to turn, everything. While the networks don't focus on that data, if you listen to some of the commentators, they will reference that data during the race.

I don't know for certain, but I'm assuming all timing data would be made available to a country's olympic committee, which would then make it available to the coaches and athletes.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (5, Insightful)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689723)

given that most of these events are run in qualifying heats, consistency between separate races is often not a factor.

I disagree. Frequently the final is comprised of the three fastest from semifinal A, the three fastest from semifinal B, and then the two fastest remaining competitors from either race. Consistency between races is extremely important to these people.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689815)

I'd rather not get into a semantic argument about the differences between "accuracy" and "consistency". I think the important thing here is really about "scope", i.e. accuracy/consistency across a single competition. The judging needs to be consistent across any single event, or combination of events that will determine a winner. To ensure fairness, the scope may encompass all the heats/races among a single competition, or maybe individual heats/races (depending on the rules of course). If the scope is consistent among all attempts at world records at all events, then we can determine world records.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689915)

There are sports, like bicycle time trialing, bobsled, skiing, etc where accuracy is the name of the game because competitors are not going head to head.

The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusive (0)

HEbGb (6544) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690043)

The photos were totally inconclusive. There wasn't a single photo (or video frame) shown where one swimmer was touching the wall, but the other was clearly not. They should have used the same kind of cameras as used for running races, and horseraces. I was very surprised that they don't.

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (4, Informative)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690221)

Inconclusive? You could clearly see a gap between cavic's finger and the wall. Whereas phelps fingers were bent back a bit from contacting the wall.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0808/oly.phelps.sequence/content.5.html [cnn.com]

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (0, Flamebait)

X.25 (255792) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692583)

Inconclusive? You could clearly see a gap between cavic's finger and the wall. Whereas phelps fingers were bent back a bit from contacting the wall.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0808/oly.phelps.sequence/content.5.html [cnn.com]

But you wouldn't know that, according to fucking rules, you need to press the sensor(s) with both hands, eh? That's why people complained about the lack of frame(s) which show that moment.

But sure thing, your incorrect post is at "+5, Informative".

Perfect example of "I read it on the Internet, it must be true".

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24692833)

Somebody got up on the wrong fucking side of the bed. Learn some tactfulness, asswipe.

The poster said "There wasn't a single photo shown where one swimmer was touching the wall, but the other was clearly not". The linked photo does seem to address that question. Blame the OP for not clarifying what they were asking for.

The clock stops when the pad is first touched (4, Informative)

h2_plus_O (976551) | more than 5 years ago | (#24694945)

according to fucking rules, you need to press the sensor(s) with both hands, eh? That's why people complained about the lack of frame(s) which show that moment.

Actually, his post is correct. The clock stops when the sensor is touched by that first fingertip- and Phelps clearly made it to the wall first by that measure. The camera and the electronic sensors agree on this.
The decision as to whether or not he did it according to the rules is a separate one. The rules for butterfly require that your shoulders be level, that your arms come around symmetrically and above the water, and that you touch the wall with both hands at the same time- but there are allowances for slight imprecisions in this regard, and Phelps was well within those tolerances. What the judges would look for is whether Phelps galloped his stroke (i.e., brought his arms around significantly assymetrically), if he would have stroked with one hand while lunging with the other, if he'd lunged over on one side, or if he'd kicked assymetrically in such a way that would get him some advantage. He did none of these things- at the finish, his body is straight, his shoulders and hips are level and square, his feet together.

What this came down to was stroke timing. Once you commit to the glide phase of a butterfly stroke, you can't break that straight-armed glide position unless you stroke through past your shoulders and recover both hands forward above the water. Approaching the wall, the two swimmers were out of phase with each other, with Phelps gaining ground- in such cases, it's always a matter of some strategery to time your stroke most advantageously, since in that drive phase of the stroke your hands can't reach forward to the wall and you're decelerating in your glide phase. Cavic stretched his last glide/lunge really well- given where he was in his stroke cycle, it wouldn't have made much sense to take another stroke. Phelps, on the other hand, was more than half-a-stroke away from the wall at the point where he needed to decide whether to take another one, so essentially he didn't do any gliding in- he touched the wall on the down-beat drive phase of his stroke, just barely in time to out-touch Cavic.

From what I can see, (based on having swum competitively for 20 years) I agree with the result- Phelps clearly won, if only by a very teeny margin.

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (1)

proc_tarry (704097) | more than 5 years ago | (#24693039)

Technically, Phelps should have been disqualified. In butterfly, one's hands must touch the wall at the same time, and from the photo finish he clearly touched with his right hand before his left. Also, if you reach with one hand outstretched further than the other, then clearly you'll get to the wall faster.

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (4, Interesting)

h2_plus_O (976551) | more than 5 years ago | (#24693625)

That rule is intended to keep people actually swimming butterfly, and it's OK if your hands touch slightly apart time-wise. What's not OK is if you break form (by stroking with one arm while lunging with the other hand) to attempt to out-reach someone, or if you don't bring both arms forward on that next stroke.
Phelps' shoulders remained square, he brought both hands around consistent with the rules, and the judges made the right call here.

Also note- the touch pad has no way of measuring when a swimmer touches with both hands, it only measures when contact is made. It is this contact that determines one's time, not the placement of the second hand. Once the time is turned in, the decision of whether it was legally accomplished (or a DQ) is a separate one.

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (2, Informative)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690519)

The officials have access to high speed cameras (10,000 frames per second or something) -- those images aren't released to the media.

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (1)

pdxp (1213906) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691175)

Not true; I saw the finish and immediately after the showed the overhead high-speed camera view. Truly an amazing sight!

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (3, Interesting)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692459)

Finish cameras (at least for racing events where you cross a line) are of a totally different sort than regular square format image array cameras.

They use a "line scan" camera that just photographs the finish line (and nothing around it) with a line of pixels at MHz pixel readout rates and get effectively tens of kHz rates for the whole line. The images are then reconstructions of the time series of data at the line- hence the lack of background and the distortion you often see on photo-finish cameras. There are systems now that also combine this with a regular video camera (synced) looking at the line from the front so they can read numbers off of runners.

I'm not sure how they deal with it for swimming--the line scan doesn't seem like a good approach, but a quick search will probably turn up details...

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692121)

Yes there are picture that are conclusive.
They showed them to the coach of the other swimmer and he stopped that former complaint.

Re:The photo/camera finish was totally inconclusiv (1)

X.25 (255792) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692655)

Yes there are picture that are conclusive.
They showed them to the coach of the other swimmer and he stopped that former complaint.

Jesus, how many dumb fucking people are on this planet.

He nor his trainer didn't fill the complaint. If was done by the olympic 'comitee' of his country.

Maybe next time you should listen to what people involved say, instead of inventing shit?

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690829)

... Winning Olympic events that involve fastest finish have nothing to do with accurate timing ...

Timings in all races are important as each athlete's time is measured against their official personal best and also against their national records (British Record, U.S. record...), their continental records (European, Americas, African...) and other groups (Commonwealth).

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1, Interesting)

discards (1345907) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690989)

No, the photo finish actually shows Phelps did NOT win that race. It clearly shows Cavic touched the end of the pool first: http://100thofasecond.com/milo-cavic-beats-phelps.jpg [100thofasecond.com] So the clock can still be wrong, and should not always be relied upon

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24691639)

I find that shot anything but clear... They both seem to be touching the end of the pool in that shot. What makes you believe it is so clear- perhaps I am missing something?

Then again I never saw the "military pod" in those 9/11 conspiracy theory videos either, so perhaps I am not the best judge.

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24691929)

Haha, this is about as "clear" to me from that picture as Christianity is from reading the Bible. I sincerely hope you're joking. That picture looks like it was taken on an Elph from a TV screen paused with a Tivo. Pathetic. They are both touching the wall in that pic. You probably are gullible to all hell, aren't you.

Underwater Cam (1)

Heffenfeffer (888559) | more than 5 years ago | (#24694411)

Apparently not - Sports Illustrated has a frame-by-frame of the Cavic-Phelps finish which shows Phelps touching the wall first. (See pages 5 and 6.)

Sports Illustrated Cavic-Phelps frame-by-frame [cnn.com]

Re:Not accurate. Consistent. (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#24694553)

Not exactly so. Accuracy means that we have measured something close to a true value. In terms of science, this means the time needed for a cesium-133 atom to perform 9,192,631,770 complete oscillations. It is true that in terms of winning a single race accuracy is not important. A photo will do.

In quantifying a races around the same time, however, something else, namely precision becomes an issue. The racers can be measures in whatever time units, say jankles, but to compare time between races, there must be some confidence that the clocks will keep precise jankles, up to the limits that we wish to time the race. For instance, one runner might have a 1.173 jankle time, and the other might have a 1.172 jankle time. We have to know that the precision of the instrument is greater than 0.01 jankle, otherwise the times are equivalent. Again, not so important if the only issue is who one the race, but important if one is quantifying 'the win'.

Accuracy enters when making the statement 'Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world.' There are two defensible interpretation of this somewhat dubious statement. One is that the olympics attract the best athletes, Bolt beat all the other athletes in a fair race, therefore with the domain of olympics runners, he is the fastest man in the world. This, as the parent mentions, requires nothing more than a photo at the finish.

However, there is another intepretation that says of all the runners we have time, Bolt is the fastest. This requires an accurate clock that measures the same time interval, which we label a s second, as all the other clocks we have used in the past to measure the race times. Not only that but the clock is precise enough to make the 9.72 second finish significant from the previous 9.74 second record. This idea of accuracy and precision might be what is called constancy. This requires a high level of technology and control.

Who the hell cares? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689045)

All that technology to find out who the fastest drug cocktail is? Wouldn't it be cheaper to hand in the lab results?

Re:Who the hell cares? (3, Funny)

phly1x (1286846) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689445)

All that technology to find out who the fastest drug cocktail is? Wouldn't it be cheaper to hand in the lab results?

no. the french judge would lose the "A" sample and f*ck up the chain of custody of the "B" sample.

Speak for yourself (-1, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689049)

I haven't been sitting on my ass watching the olympics. Is your life really that pathetic?

Re:Speak for yourself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689509)

I don't consider spending a few dozen hours every couple of years watching the best athletes try and put on their best performance to be pathetic. I think it's probably more pathetic that I spend time on slashdot reading crap like what you just posted.

Re:Speak for yourself (2, Insightful)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689639)

No, the world I live in is so plagued with asshole politicians, evil corporations, a sinking morass of a war, and numerous other cancers on the national soul, so that having a national hero I can stand up and cheer for is the only thing that can come close to healing the rift between me and my government. I've never liked the idea of patriotism very much, but that doesn't mean I don't want it.

Re:Speak for yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689759)

Oh boo hoo, if you don't like this terrible place, you have every right to leave. If you stay, you have every obligation to do what you can to fix it.

Re:Speak for yourself (0)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690347)

Well, I'll certainly be voting in the next election, and I will certainly be keeping emigration in mind as well. I don't see what that has to do with the Olympics, though.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691735)

Modding me overrated here is probably a good argument for getting rid of the 'overrated' mod, since in this instance it simply means "I disagree with what this person is saying."

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 5 years ago | (#24693387)

about as much right as Mexicans have to leave Mexico.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691091)

And instead you spent it sitting on your ass complaining about the olympics?

Finally! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689109)

It's about time!

Who's the fastest drug cocktail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689265)

I couldn't be less interested.

Why the difference? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689641)

In the video the Omega spokesman says that the cameras on the track take 2000 frames per second. However at the water cube the cameras only take 100 frames per second.

Why the difference? Wouldn't it make sense to use a more precise camera at the swimming events since their times seem to so frequently differ only by a 100th of a second?

These guys have so much money to build these buildings and all the other stuff you think they could scrounge up the dough for an extra camera.

Re:Why the difference? (5, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689807)

It may have to do with regulations for individual sports. Each individual sport has its own set of rules and committees. Is has been made obvious this week, gymnastics doesn't allow ties, but I believe swimming does (IIRC, during the first few days we had a tie for bronze). If 1/100 second is the accepted resolution for swimming and any smaller interval is considered a tie, there doesn't serve much purpose in taking more photos. Each photo would be precisely timed to take place exactly as the clock ticked over. Anything more might be useful for a pissing contest, but by the regulations is unnecessary, and perhaps even undesirable (as the media might try to push one as being the true winner, rather than just accept the tie and giving both their due).

Re:Why the difference? (5, Informative)

uberdilligaff (988232) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691439)

I have officiated swimming competitions for nearly 20 years, and LordKronos has it exactly right. Both USA-Swimming and FINA (international swimming governing body) rules require that races be decided by accurate electronic timing precise to 1/100 sec, and no more. Further precision to 1/1000 sec is neither desired nor permitted, and by rule, swimmers who have the same time to the nearest 1/100 sec are tied and share equally in the place. At the velocity of Olympic swimmers (Phelps' 100 fly averaged 1.98 meters/sec), the .01 sec time difference amounts to a 2cm margin of victory.

Re:Why the difference? (3, Informative)

h2_plus_O (976551) | more than 5 years ago | (#24695239)

If 1/100 second is the accepted resolution for swimming and any smaller interval is considered a tie, there doesn't serve much purpose in taking more photos

Indeed. There was at least one shared medal in these olympics as a result.
Note that when a tie needs to be broken (for example, to determine who advances on to semis or finals) it is done in a swim-off heat (this happened at least once during these games) rather than by going to the next decimal point.

Re:Why the difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24689859)

I'm not basing this on fact, just an opinion. But I believe the answer to that would be that cameras are more vital to track and field in determining the winner. The touch timing in swimming is very accurate. Where as the timing in track and field is based upon breaking a plane, not as easy to detect accurrately. What if a runner "leans in" at the finish? Also, for swimming, they need a lot more cameras. Two for every two lanes (one overhead, one underwater, each watching two lanes in their field of view). After the Phelps .01 victory, the commentators gave a brief explanation of where the cameras are in the water cube, though they gave no tech details on their frame rate.

Re:Why the difference? (1)

demaria (122790) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689899)

Swimming events are over when the athlete touches the wall, while track events requires the head to cross the finish line. The photos in the swim events are more like a backup device, while track requires the more expensive high framerate cameras.

Re:Why the difference? (2, Informative)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690003)

Actually from what the guy was saying, I think the torso is the timing point for a track race.

Re:Why the difference? (1)

Footix (972079) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690431)

By the rules of swimming, if the athletes have the same time to the hundredth of a second, it's a dead heat. Athletics goes to the photo finish, so even if two athletes have the same "official" time, the tie gets broken.

Re:Why the difference? (1)

Btarlinian (922732) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690511)

By the rules of swimming, if the athletes have the same time to the hundredth of a second, it's a dead heat. Athletics goes to the photo finish, so even if two athletes have the same "official" time, the tie gets broken.

No, even in track and field, there can be a tie, as seen in the womans' 100 m dash, where two sprinters tied for 2nd.

Re:Why the difference? (1)

Footix (972079) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690773)

In that case, it really was a dead heat. Notice that in the womens' 100m hurdles, the 2nd and 3rd place finisher had the same time, but that tie was broken.

Re:Why the difference? (1)

kmsigel (306018) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692609)

The track camera is line scan and the swimming camera is a traditional video camera.

Re:Why the difference? (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692793)

because of the way the finishes work in a pool vs. on a track.

On the track (and for cycling and other racing sports) they use a line scan camera (I describe it in another post nearby) but it won't work in a pool where they don't actually cross a finish line, but touch a wall.

And from other posts it sounds like the swimming rules have been designed to accomodate the differences.

Lost in translation... (4, Informative)

HonkyLips (654494) | more than 5 years ago | (#24689839)

The guy mentions several times that the camera takes 2000 frames per second, but unfortunately states that this gives a precision of "two thousandths" of a second. The actual precision would be "one two-thousandth" of a second... I suppose this is an understandable translation error. But I enjoyed the piece, I was interested that they used a GPS signal to synchronise their systems.

Re:Lost in translation... (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690103)

At 1:25 into the video I think he pretty clearly says "every two-thousandth of a second".

Re:Lost in translation... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690201)

I was interested that they used a GPS signal to synchronise their systems.

I can't WTFV (never bothered to install Flash on my system at work, and don't have a sound card here anyhow), but that's no surprise -- a GPS is pretty much the generally accepted way to run your own cheap tier-1 NTP server.

Observer Effect (5, Funny)

DaMoisture (862785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690065)

"No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!"

outcome (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24690265)

No fair You changed the outcome by measuring it.

No fair! (0, Redundant)

jspenguin1 (883588) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690331)

You changed the outcome by observing it!

Omega not the leader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24690451)

Lynx is the worldwide leader in sports timing. Omega only does the Olympics because they pay the big sponsorship bucks. Their technology is actually inferior, but because the IOC is so focused on money they ignore Omega's problems.

Re:Omega not the leader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24690555)

What about the Omega technology is inferior?

Edge of our seats (4, Funny)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690479)

... We've been on the edge of our seats cheering on the athletes at the Beijing Olympic games ...

Hey this is slashdot you insensitive clod!

Each of us to a man (and woman) was picked last for sports.

Re:Edge of our seats (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24691433)

I wasn't always picked last! Sometimes I was picked second to last and I felt like i was the king of the world!

In ancient Greece (3, Informative)

gr8dude (832945) | more than 5 years ago | (#24690879)

Back in the days, when two runners arrived to the finish line at the "same" time - the race would be held again.

THkIS FP FOR GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24691075)

on baBy...don't

It's all about McNuggets baby. (2)

korean.ian (1264578) | more than 5 years ago | (#24691443)

Usain Bolt goes for McNuggets [guardian.co.uk]

Seriously, the guys is amazing. He doesn't need any fancy timing technology. Just some weird food technology.

Access the video here .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24691795)

http://video.idg.com.au/idgns/2008_08/ [idg.com.au]

shows a listing of the files on their video repository. Try :
    435_olympic_timing_200k.flv ( http://video.idg.com.au/idgns/2008_08/435_olympic_timing_200k.flv [idg.com.au] )
    435_olympic_timing_350k.flv ( http://video.idg.com.au/idgns/2008_08/435_olympic_timing_350k.flv [idg.com.au] )
    435_olympic_timing_600k.flv ( http://video.idg.com.au/idgns/2008_08/435_olympic_timing_600k.flv [idg.com.au] )

Pools too short (3, Interesting)

Pachelbel1414 (1348969) | more than 5 years ago | (#24692529)

In the video, the touch pad for timing on the wall of the pool looks at least several cm thick, and I assume there are pads at both ends. Does anyone know if the length of the pool is purposely built larger to accommodate the thickness of the timing pad? On the assumption that it's not, and the pads are 3 cm thick at each end of the pool, that means the length of the pool is really 49.94 m instead 50.0 m. The world record time for the 200 m breaststroke is 127.51 secs, for an average swim speed of 1.57 m/s. If the pool is 0.06 m short, then the total length swam would be 199.76 m -- short 0.06 m * 4 lengths. This could affect the time by 0.15 s at those speeds. Just curious.

Re:Pools too short (1)

bmc13 (911734) | more than 5 years ago | (#24696159)

i would be willing to bet that it was designed with that in mind, being that i know of at least one world record that was thrown out after a post race measurement of the pool found it to be 49.97 meters (iirc). (this was due to a divider that splits that pool into 2 25M pools not being pushed exactly into position at the end of the pool for a meet.)

trol7kore (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24693733)

surprise to the Fun to be again. while the pro6ect Stupid. To the Learn what mistakes Pooper. Nothing clearly. There ops or any of the these challenges

So THAT explains all the new records (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24694785)

I misread the header as Timing Technology (faulty such) being the reason why new record results were achieved.

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