New aid to help golfers keep eye on ball
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.”