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OPTOELECTRONICS FEATURE


PACER GOES PITCH SIDE VAR monitors demand strength and superior performance


The video assistant referee (VAR) brings technology into a football match, enabling the use of video footage to help review refereeing decisions. With a requirement to replace the current monitors with enhanced specifications, Pacer International were commissioned to deliver a solution. Mark Widdowson, Pacer’s franchise manager, highlights some of the engineering challenges the project faced


T


hey may stand idle at the side of Premier League pitches for most of


the season, but pitchside VAR monitors are set to be used more regularly to aid the VAR team’s decision-making process. Through new guidance by the Professional Game Match Officials board, referees have been told to use the ‘referee review area’ when the VAR wants to either upgrade a card to red or downgrade it to a yellow; consider the controversy surrounding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sending off for Arsenal against Crystal Palace last month. Pacer’s customer required an application-specific referee’s monitor that met a higher specification than was currently available in the marketplace. In layman’s terms, they needed a large, high definition, wide viewing angle monitor that was waterproof and could still work in extreme climates, whether it be -20 degrees Celsius in Russia, or +45 degrees Celsius in Saudi Arabia. Bespoke requirements included: • All weather housing and custom input/output


• Wide temperature performance, requiring thermal management


• •


High-bright anti-reflective technology, including optical bonding to enhance the optical quality and prevent condensation Privacy hood


CHALLENGES AND A BESPOKE APPROACH Several issues came to the fore when addressing the issue of sunlight readability, a key factor in the case of on-the-go sports analysis. This was a


product that would be used outdoors in high ambient lighting, and competing with the sun can be hard work for outdoor display applications such as these; increasing an LCD’s backlight brightness is often not enough to enhance sunlight readability. For


example, increasing brightness alone is only beneficial if contrast is not adversely affected at the same time.


To overcome this challenge, Pacer added an anti-reflective coating to the display. Anti-reflective coatings use thin film layers with different refractive indices, making clever use of interference properties to prevent the display from appearing washed out in sunlight. Pacer chose anti-reflective to avoid the compromise in clarity that can occur with anti-glare coatings, which use


acer chose anti-reflective to avoid the compromise in clarity that can occur with anti-glare coatings, which use diffusion techniques to tackle and enhance readability.


A protective glass sheet improved the strength and durability of the monitor, and Pacer also incorporatedmonit optical bonding to improve


A protective glass sheet improved


performance. Taking a protective glass sheet and bonding it using an optically pure adhesive to the front polariser of the Thin Film Transistor panel (TFT) enhanced the contrast and, in turn, improved sunlight readability; it also removed air gaps and


ransistor panel (TFT


contrast and, in turn, improved sunlight readability; it also removed air gaps and added strength. This was important given that these units were being installed and dismantled before and after every football match, as opposed to being left


hat these units were being installed and dismantled before and after every football match, as opposed to being left out on the pitch sideline.


Although these units were not designed to stay outside indefinitely and be


Although these units were not designed exposed to the various weather elements, nt / ELECTRONICS


Pacer International www.pacer.co.uk


ELECTRONICS | MARCH 2020 17


Key decisions can be overturned through the use of VAR - the VAR display, therefore, demands display clarity to ensure that the right decision is ultimately made


the monitors still needed to be IP65 rated to accommodate certain situations. For example, the units could be left unattended for a short period of time whilst being installed, irrespective of rain. The monitors are, as such, waterproof. The challenge with sealing the box to an IP65 rating is that the elements all create heat inside. This required a new approach to thermal management. Given the specific features that were required for the graphics card, this meant that instead of having an off-the-shelf, standard, low intelligence electronics interface, Pacer had to integrate a small, RISC-PC-based graphics engine to deliver the extra functionality ando deliver the extra functionality and control over the colour gamut. This demands a higher spec processor that would effectively create more heat. So, he combination of creating lots of light


control over the colour gamut. This demands a higher spec processor that would effectively create more heat. So, the combination of creating lots of light and fast-moving graphics essentially turns the unit into an oven. The systemurns the unit into an oven. The system that the team developed drew the heat from the components to the bottom of the monitor, where a fan sits on the outside of the unit and blows air on to he heat sink – this approach helped o retain the waterproof integrity of the casing. So, no matter he extremity of t


hat the t


from the components to the bottom of the monitor, where a fan sits on the outside of the unit and blows air on to the heat sink – this approach helped to retain the waterproof integrity of the casing. So, no matter the extremity of the offence being scrutinised, the display echnology will resist extreme environments to provide a


being scrutinised, the display technology will resist extreme environments to provide a performance demanded of itsperformance demanded of it users within such a lucrative, intense sector.


users within such a lucrative, intense sector.


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