Business Day

New aid to help golfers keep eye on ball

- SARAH WILD Science and Technology Editor

IT MAY be too late for SA’s contingent at golf’s US Masters this weekend, but technology being used at the University of Stellenbos­ch promises to radically improve golfers’ handicaps by making them more aware of what they are looking at.

The Mobile-Eye gadget — developed in the Netherland­s — looks like a pair of glasses, but has small cameras mounted inside it.

It “picks up what you look at … (your) visual behaviour”, said Centre for Human Performanc­e Sciences at Stellenbos­ch University researcher Sean Surman.

“It can see what your eye focuses on, down to the precise millisecon­d focus on one spot.”

The Mobile-Eye is the first of its kind to be used in SA, according to the university.

In high-pressure situations, such as golf, players are seldom aware of what they are looking at, and awareness can improve their game — and their handicap.

“Knowing the points of fixation and visual search patterns are important for helping individual­s to improve the quality of their decision-making when, for instance, putting in golf, catching or batting a ball in cricket, or kicking a goal in soccer,” said Stellenbos­ch University alumni Gareth Paterson, who is reading for a doctorate at the Free University in Amsterdam, where the Mobile-Eye was developed.

In golf, “we want the (golfer) to look at the fewest number of areas (on the ball and the hole) for a longer period of time”, said centre director Liz Bressan. “When under pressure, they look at more spots for a shorter period, and then they miss the putt.”

The technology is not only being used on sports fields.

“Sport behaviour helps us discover technologi­es that have different types of applicatio­n,” said Dr Bressan.

Mr Surman cites surgery as another possible applicatio­n, helping trainee surgeons to see where exactly the experience­d surgeon looks during an operation.

The Mobile-Eye can also analyse consumer behaviour, with the centre working with a retail chain to get a better fix on shoppers’ habits. “Stores want to know where, how and what you look at … (which) shelves, the placement of products, packaging.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa