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Japanese technology and entertainment giant Sony has bought Hawk-Eye, the British-based firm whose computer systems assist umpires and track the path of balls in sports such as tennis and cricket. The two firms did not disclose the value of the transaction, but the Nikkei newspaper estimated it to be worth “several billion yen” (tens of millions of dollars). Sony will use Hawk-Eye’s know-how, technology and business network in the sports industry to improve its sports-related products, such as IT solutions for sports arenas, the company said in a statement dated Monday.
“Hawk-Eye presents Sony with the opportunity to acquire a small, innovative company with unique knowledge and excellent growth and synergies potential,” Naomi Climer, vice-president of Sony Europe, said in the statement.
The deal will complement Sony’s existing business portfolio for sports professionals, such as IT solutions for stadiums, venues and broadcasters, said Climer. Sony is a major sponsor of many sports events and offers a full line of equipment for sports media professionals. Hawk-Eye was launched in 1999 and its technology has helped transform global sports coverage on TV to become the reference standard for ball tracking and graphics in sports such as tennis, cricket, and snooker. It can be used to provide instant graphic replays that help determine whether the ball was in or out during tennis matches or inform key umpire decisions in cricket.
“Our skills and established knowledge coupled with Sony’s breadth of capabilities and technologies will create immense opportunities for the sports industry,” Paul Hawkins, founder of Hawk-Eye, said in the statement.