Development of Electronic Equipment in Sport WTF Taekwondo
Electronic PPS scoring has come on leaps and bounds. In the 2012 Olympics we will see the best electronic scoring system available the Dadeo TK Strike.
The first system used in competition was the Adidas system (introduced by the ETU), which relied on power and contact and did not need a sock. This system was a poor system where contact with the knee or even a clash of pads would score. It was also inconsistent as both players could clash pads and only one score. The pad would also register a score when landing heavily on the floor and as the rules were/are a corner judges and referees cannot override the system, it left many a player greatly frustrated. Indeed the worst example I saw of this was in the Cadet European Championships in Zagreb 2009, where a player who was 1-0 down got closed down in a clinch, the opponent did not throw a kick and the player came out the clinch 3-0 down. To compound the issue with 10 seconds to go the player tried a headshot and landed heavily on the pad to find themselves 4-0 down. Such was life with Adidas and the weight of the Adidas pad was horrendous.
The next system was LaJust and worked from a sock with contacts and contact areas on the pad. This changed the match play in Taekwondo as it had a limited scoring area and removed some of the traditional scoring areas for a Taekwondo player. It was also an extremely hard system to score on and had many issues including mobile telephone interference and other electronic equipment would interfere with it. In addition it was not the most reliable system and I can clearly remember the Belgium Open 2010 where in the first match of the day at senior -54Kg it took 45 minutes for the system to work, the players went on the mat at 09:00 and due to technical difficulties it took 45 minutes to get the system working. The La just system also scored “easier” if the electronic sock was “wet” .
The cheating incident on the LaJust system was exposed at the Asian Games where Taiwanese athlete Yang Shu Chun was disqualified for having an additional senor in her sock. There was a huge political debate as Yang used an older version of the sock which did indeed have an additional senor. WTF claimed the older version was no longer on the approved list and Yang was disqualified and suspended for using the wrong equipment to gain a competitive advantage. Another form of cheating with this system was a number of players had additional sensors in their gloves. This led to the introduction of electronic wands checking the players before they entered the arena. This form of cheating could happen with any type of sensor system.
Overall the LaJust system changed the way Taekwondo was played and if you had a good defence and played a messy tight game you would win. It forced WFT Taekwondo to become more of a headshot game and often games would be very low scoring.
It was also an ugly system and players looked more like something from Star Wars that a Taekwondo player and were not reversible.
Daedo is by far the best electronic scoring system available today (using an electronic body pad and sock) and is the nearest to a normal match you will get with an electronic system. It scores in all areas of the pad as would a standard hogu. It also only scores if correct contact and power is used, rather than corner judges score a kick with power but not accurate or an accurate flick that made very little contact.
It was selected for the Olympics by Swiss Timing after they trialed both LaJust and Daedo and Swiss Timing declaring that Daedo was the superior system. The changes introduced by Swiss Timing (as used at the London Excel Test Event) have greatly improved the system. The most obvious change is the monitoring of the connection between the pad and the control system and any drop in signal been flagged immediately. This happened twice over two days at the Test Event and took less than thirty seconds to rectify on each occasion.
If the system does have a weakness it is the position of the sensor on the sole of the sock, this is probably the worst aspect and has introduced a pushing kick into sports Taekwondo. The sock that was used at the Test event and for the Olympic qualifiers and will be used at the games has an improved senor position which looks to have resolved this issue. The system does occasionally misbehave if the batteries run low; again this has been addressed by introducing monitoring of the battery power and can be resolved very quickly with a battery change.
The Daedo pad is reversible and has very little weight difference between it and a standard Hogu.
London 2012 will see the best available system on the market today and given the rigorous testing that has been completed by Swiss Timing will be the fairest and most accurate system seen in a Taekwondo competition.
After London 2012 improvements will still come through. Daedo have already got electronic gloves and head protectors available for introduction that have been trialed and proven to work.
There is also another company developing an electronic scoring system which has been trialed in Korea and is said to be as good as Daedo and possibly better. This system is not ready for commercial release but is targeted for WTF approval in 2013.
by Andrew Abley