INFORMATION SYSTEM (UIS)
Major League Baseball has contracted QuesTec to install, operate, and maintain the UIS (Umpire Information System) in support of MLB's previously announced strike zone initiatives. The UIS uses QuesTec's proprietary measurement technology that analyzes video from
cameras mounted in the rafters of each ballpark to precisely locate the ball
throughout the pitch corridor. This information is then used to measure the speed, placement, and curvature of the pitch along its entire path.
The UIS tracking system is a fully automated
process that does not require changes to the ball, the field of play, or any other aspect of the
game. Additional cameras are mounted at the field level to measure the strike zone for each individual
batter, for each individual pitch, for each at
bat. This information is compiled on a CD ROM
disk and given to the home plate umpire immediately
following each game.
does it work?
The UIS uses QuesTec's proprietary measurement
technology. Quite different than "video
insertion" technology that simply adds graphics
to the broadcast video, QuesTec technology actually
measures information about interesting events during
the game that would not be available any other way.
This technology is so innovative it appeared in a
Scientific American article in September of 2000.
The ball tracking component uses cameras mounted in
the stands off the first and third base lines to
follow the ball as it leaves the pitcher's hand
until it crosses the plate. Along the way, multiple
track points are measured to precisely locate the
ball in space and time. This information is then
used to measure the speed, placement, and curvature
of the pitch along its entire path. The entire
process is fully automatic including detection of
the start of the pitch, tracking of the ball,
location computations, and identification of
non-baseball objects such as birds or wind swept
debris moving through the field of view. No changes
are made to the ball, the field of play, or any
other aspect of the game, to work with QuesTec
technology. The tracking technology was originally
developed for the US military and the company has
adapted it to sports applications.
accurate is it?
The UIS is accurate to within 0.5 inch (one half
does the UIS system differ from the broadcast system
The UIS uses different cameras, modified software,
and a different calibration process to increase
are they different?
The requirements for umpires and broadcast graphics
are different. The extra cost and effort for the
increased accuracy would be wasted when turned into
the graphics we provide on air or over the internet.
have you done over the internet?
Variations to this system have been used to produce
pitch data for the online game "HIT THE
PROS" located at www.FOXSports.com/games.
"HIT THE PROS" allows you to swing at all
the same pitches that the big leaguers did! In the
past, we provided simultaneous webcast of pitch data
for the 1999, 2000 and 2001 All Star Games and the 1999
World Series, all on the MLB official website.
long has PitchTrax been available?
The PitchTrax product was first seen Nationally on
air during the 1997 World Series. It has been used
in various markets since then and appeared in
hundreds of broadcasts on FOX SportsNet last season.
We are in the process of installing it in all 30 MLB
parks and hope to have that completed sometime this
and when will the UIS be in operation?
MLB will tell us where they would like the system
installed. Four Major League parks were installed in
2001 and ten are scheduled for 2002.
much are you being paid for this?
We are not at liberty to discuss that. MLB has
provided for us to recover some of our costs for
modifying the technology to fit their needs and they
will be paying us to operate the systems for the
duration of the agreement, which is five years.
owns the technology?
We have retained full ownership of the technology
with certain practical limitations on any uses
related to umpiring in baseball.
you can sell this technology to others?
Yes, as long as we don't interfere with the use of
it for the legitimate purpose of providing
information to the umpires.
do the umpires feel about it?
In general, they support it! They had the
opportunity to really watch the technology in action
and to talk to us about how it works and how we
thought it might be used. MLB has also worked very
hard to clearly lay out why they wanted this
technology and how they would use it. We wouldn't
dare say everyone loves it at this point but, from
what we have seen, the umpiring community as a whole
agrees this information has a lot of potential value
and they want to work with it to see what can be
is this deal important to QuesTec?
Gaining acceptance from both MLB and the umpires for
the accuracy, reliability and value of our
technology is like getting a Seal of Approval. We
are not aware of any other measurement technology
that has been accepted in this way by the governing
body of a major US sport, or, in fact, any sport
worldwide. This is the first real advance since the
stop watch and the tape measure. We are a
measurement company and now an independent
organization has agreed that our technology works
and is willing to use it in a very important
capacity. We think that is pretty important.