How fast is that soccer player? Fraunhofer can tell

HANOVER, Germany--Today, baseball is the statistician's playground, but telematics technology that tracks players and the ball could bring the same numeric precision to soccer as well.

At the CeBIT trade show here, the Fraunhofer Institute is showing technology that attaches chips with radio transmitters to soccer players and the ball. A collection of 12 receivers around a stadium measures the players' position 200 times a second and the ball's position 2,000 times a second, said Ingmar Bretz, a project leader.

"You can distinguish between good and bad players in real time," he said, by gauging … Read more

iPhone vs. Vita gaming: Comparing FIFA iOS (99 cents) with FIFA Vita ($39.99)

Recently, I wrote an article titled "What if the Vita had an Apple logo instead of Sony's?" Some readers didn't appreciate that I'd talked about the Vita in the context of Apple or as one reader put it, "Damn, CNET has to talk about Apple all the time???"

Worse yet, another reader chillingly removed us from his Google home page, stating that our articles don't have enough "variety and range" for him anymore.

Ironically, a couple days ago I ran into an Apple employee at an event who complained that … Read more

New software could create computerized sportscasters

Could a computer replace this era's crop of clownish sportscasters like Dick Vitale or Lee Corso? We can dream--while a Swiss company works on software that could create artificial intelligence systems to call sporting events.

Computer researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland are working on a system that can track multiple athletes on a football field, a basketball court, or a soccer pitch via multiple cameras and advanced scanning algorithms. These days, computers can track human athletes, racing cars, and other sporting elements via GPS. But that's illegal in many sports as the introduction of such technology threatens to overpower the human element of athletics. The EPFL technology uses visual cues instead. … Read more

It's your turn to score

Freekick 2 is a free, ad-supported soccer game that lets you take repeated direct free kicks on a goal.

Freekick 2 looks great, with a photorealistic field and cartoonish players, and it has a fun, easy-to-learn interface that lets you adjust the speed and direction of your shot, including the ability to put a little bend on the ball. You tap arrows to rotate your point of view left and right, and you swipe your finger up an arrow to determine the force and spin of your kick. As you score, the number of defenders rotates between one, two, and … Read more

The 404 862: Where we blow it in the 9th (podcast)

Everyone knows Wilson G. Tang is an Apple fanboy, but today we discover that there's an actual science behind blind dedication to certain brands. And it's not just tech, either--on today's podcast, we're exploring a brain synapse that causes a breach in rationality.

Other stories today include an app for jailbroken iPads that lets you create multiple user profiles, laptop stickers that show you where to drill in case of emergency, and a family of dudes named Casey Anthony getting harassed on Facebook.

The 404 Digest for Episode 862

Jeff finally gets iPad profiles. The science behind fanboyism. Laptop stickers show you where to drill in case of emergency. A Philadelphia man with an unfortunate name gets harassed on Facebook. Alex's video voice mail from the top of Grays Peak!

Episode 862 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Report: Twitter sued by world-famous soccer star

Soccer players tend not to be of the highest intellectual caliber. They are, after all, too busy playing soccer.

However, I wonder if one particular British soccer player--a very famous one at that--might have plunged below the normal soccer player IQ standards by reportedly filing a lawsuit against those sporting chaps at Twitter.

Business Week--and just about every newspaper in the world that enjoys the world's most lovely game--has witnessed the appropriate court papers.

The British lawsuit not only goes after Twitter but also reportedly seeks retribution against "persons unknown responsible for the publication of information on … Read more

How are your soccer skills? Ask the shirt

Football shirts are about to go high-tech, with the football club Tottenham Hotspur planning a kit that contains sensors to monitor how players are performing. The North London club has signed a 50-million pound ($80.3 million) deal with sportswear company Under Armour to wear its space-age E39 shirts.

The E39 features an onboard sensor called a Bug that monitors a player's body. It records heart rate, breathing, and skin temperature, storing the data on its 2GB hard drive and beaming the stats to a computer via Bluetooth. Coaches can see a player's performance during training on their iPad or iPhone.

The shirt also boasts an accelerometer, measuring a player's movements and recording how much G-force they face. The data is analyzed by software from Zephyr, which provides similar tech to the U.S. military.

Read more of "High-tech football shirt measures players' work rate in £50m Spurs deal" at Crave UK. … Read more

Hands-on with 10 3DS games and features

If you were following along with our live blog this morning, you know the big news: the Nintendo 3DS is coming March 27 for $250. But what about the games? A dozen or so titles were ready for some hands-on action this afternoon, and we got a chance to play the majority of them. Nintendo also showed us some of the built-in software that'll be on every 3DS, including the Mii Maker and AR Games.

The following titles will see launch-day or launch-window releases, between March 27 and E3 2011, according to Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime.

Mii Maker Miis are coming to the 3DS, and the Mii Maker app is preinstalled to allow for their creation. Better yet, the front-facing camera can be used in tandem to help make the process a bit more accurate. When we tried it out, the resulting Mii was a bit insulting, but after a few minor tweaks it actually did resemble our photo. Creating Miis from scratch is just like the Wii experience we're all used to.

AR Games AR Games (augmented reality games) will use a Nintendo playing card to manipulate the world through the 3DS' cameras. We had some time with a simple target-shooting game, and the effect is pretty impressive. Even better, the game requires the player to move around the virtual play space as well, adding a whole new dimension to the experience.

Steel Diver Once a tech demo, Steel Diver is getting the full game treatment at launch on the 3DS. Players control a submarine by using touch sliders that control height and acceleration. Torpedos can also be fired at oncoming obstacles, but the section of the game we played focused more on avoiding colliding with the ocean floor.

Kid Icarus Uprising After about 10 minutes with Kid Icarus Uprising--the very game Nintendo debuted the 3DS with at E3 2010--we're anticipating that the control scheme might be this title's biggest hurdle. We played two parts, one that felt like an on-rails shooter, the other a sort of modified third-person action segment.… Read more

Cook with the pros and play ball as one: iPhone apps of the week

The big Apple iPhone news this week involved a new app approved in the iTunes App Store called Skyfire Web Browser (link will open iTunes). This new Web browser's claim to fame is that it can display Flash content by using an interesting workaround. The browser sends Flash content to its own server, converts it to HTML5, then streams the content back to your iPhone. Jessica Dolcourt wrote about Skyfire's shaky launch here.

Apparently, within 5 hours, Skyfire's servers were overloaded (imagine that!) as people swarmed to a new way to view Flash on the iPhone. To be honest, I haven't run into many problems with not having Flash, but I definitely hope that Apple and Adobe or someone can come to an agreement so any smartphone user can get ALL the Web content available.

As of right now, Skyfire is still available at the iTunes App Store, but I have to wonder how it could not know there would be an onslaught of traffic and prepare accordingly. It also makes me wonder if it's really worth the trouble.

What do you think? Are you content waiting for developers to convert everything to HTML5 (if that's even possible)? Should Apple just throw caution to the wind and make it so Flash works (and open the platform to those alleged dangers)? Let me know in the comments!

This week, get cooking with chefs from the Food Network and play a fun arcade baseball game.… Read more

Soccer dribbling and smooth space combat: iPhone apps of the week

The Apple event on Wednesday was largely about the next iteration of Mac OS X (appropriately named Lion). But an interesting development came when Steve Jobs introduced the new Mac App Store, which will become available to Snow Leopard users in about 90 days.

Much like the iTunes App Store, the Mac App Store will let you purchase Mac apps and install them quickly on your computers. And as it does with the iTunes App Store, Apple will take a 30-percent cut of the sale price, leaving developers 70 percent. But Jobs was careful to point out that the Mac App Store will not mimic the closed system of the iTunes App Store--it will simply be another option to bring apps to your Mac. But do we really believe him?

It seems to me that creating the Mac App Store is Apple's way of testing whether the market will tolerate Apple getting a piece of the action on software developed for the Mac, just like it does with iPhone apps. We can be pretty sure that several developers will submit their apps right off the bat, if for no other reason than for the exposure that an iTunes-like experience can provide. But what Apple might be banking on is that once the software submissions gain momentum, the larger players may no longer have a choice but to submit their software to the new system. Am I just being paranoid?

While we certainly can't be sure what Apple hopes to achieve with the Mac App Store, this sort of soft launch makes me think there's something more going on here. Let me know what you think in the comments.

This week's apps include a 3D third-person soccer game and a new arcade space flier with a fun single-player mode.… Read more