Technology surprises at the football World Cup, 2018: Microchips and Satellites

The Etrusca Unico, the official match ball is up in orbit somewhere, that is what still many believe till date after 1990, Soccer World Cup in Italy, after Chris Waddle, England’s midfielder missed his chance in penalty shootout in the semi-final game against Germany and the ball went high over the bars and went on going and going. England loss that match and their chances to move on to the finals.

Now after three decades, Adidas has made a match ball for the FIFA World Cup Finals’ 2018 in Russia inspired from something, that’s true is in its orbit – the 1962 Telstar satellite. A joint venture between NASA and AT & T (then Bell Telephone laboratory), serving as the first satellite meant for communications, the 1962 Telstar is still there, doing what it was intended to – connecting the world with a technology that’s space-aged. 

Telstar 18, that’s what Adidas has named its latest world cup ball. It is not that Adidas has taken such inspirations from the stars. Telstar 18 stands as the company’s homage to its first iconic ball of 1970 World Cup – The Adidas Telstar, the first ball to have panels in black and white to make it easily visible in B&W television sets being used in many homes during that time. The latest version of Telstar 18 has redesigned panel features that have been designed as propellers to assist stability during flight and for durability they have been pixelated.   

Using communication as the key of this new World Cup football design, something that has its inspirations from the satellite, the Telstar 18 ball has been embedded with more power packed communication technology. It will feature an integrated NFC chip inside the ball with a Wi-Fi symbol, symbolising the technology within. 

For Adidas using such technology in their products is nothing new. The miCoach Smart Ball has been developed by the company to help coaches monitor player performances.  This time, the use of technology in Telstar 18, is not for measuring things like ball speed and power of shots, instead is purposed to be used to provide information on the game and allow the public to engage in various competitions. The idea is all about interacting with the ball and not to track it, and to enhance the fan experience through Android or iOS devices. 

Ronald Rommler, Category Director of Football Hardware of Adidas, mentioned about the ball that it was an all exciting challenge for all at Adidas to stick around the original design and develop something further to their iconic original Telstar. He also mentioned saying that, the all-new panel design and structure and the inclusion of the chip, will take soccer experience to newer heights.