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Soccer Game Ruined For Viewers By AI Camera Following Ref's Head Instead Of Ball

Technology solves many problems for us but if it didn't also have a habit of creating problems as well, a lot of people in IT, tech support, and repairs wouldn't have jobs. And even when the brilliant designers of tech think they've sorted out all possible problems ahead of time, you're not going to know for sure until you put the thing to use.

And unfortunately, sometimes that makes for a rather large audience discovering the shortcomings of your tech at the same time.

Such was the case in Scotland recently during a soccer match.

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Or, if you prefer, a football match. Regardless of what you call the game, Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club was eager to show off a new, AI-controlled camera for its broadcasts.

"Following two successful test events in the last 14 days, the club is pleased to be able to announce our new live streaming partnership with StreamAMG which is in conjunction with the SPFL and Pixellot," the club announced on its website.

This exciting new partnership means that ICTFC will utilise live footage supplied by the newly installed Pixellot camera system installed at Caledonian Stadium.

The Pixellot system uses cameras with built-in AI and ball-tracking technology to produce live HD footage of all home SPFL Championship matches at Caledonian Stadium, which will then be broadcast directly to ICTFC Season Ticket holders and those purchasing a PPV match via a centrally operated streaming platform at StreamAMG.

However, those two tests must not have featured one important element that the first live match using the new AI camera did: a bald head.

Yes, the AI control, intended to track the ball throughout the match, got a wee bit confused by assistant referee John McCrossan's round, ball-like head.

As Scotland's Daily Record reported, the viewers who had tuned in — who had to have done so because they were season ticket holders or because they had ponied up for pay-per-view, remember — were left baffled by the camera repeatedly veering away from the action on field to focus in on McCrossan as he patrolled the sidelines.

Indeed, the apologies of the commentator were insufficient for the fans.

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They reportedly flooded ICTFC's Facebook page to express their disappointment and frustration.

"Ditch the terrible automated camera and get a human to film our next home match! Only saw the ball for half the match," one person wrote. "Also, get any bald linesman to wear a hat or wig in future, as the automated camera thought his bald napper was the ball too often!!"

"Never mind the game. The ball following technology needs to be improved, when ball is at distance from the camera starts to look for it and pans the ground and we miss some action, also followed linesman's head, cars on A9 and a bird at one point," wrote another.

As frustrated as the fans were, some were able to have some fun with the view after the fact.

One person slapped together a cut of all the times the camera shifted away from the action to check in on McCrossan and posted it to YouTube, set to the tune of Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy."

The league did address the AI camera's issues as well, stating "We are aware of a few brief instances of wandering cameras and have been assured by Pixellot that they are working to fix it," the Daily Record reported.

h/t: Daily Record

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