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Hot Spot can be fooled by silicone bat tapes, claim MIT scientists

The researchers at MIT found that the silicone tapes can be used for deceiving Hot Spot's thermal imaging cameras.

Hot Spot
Silicone tapes used for minor damage repairs on bats can effect Hot Spot’s ability to detect edges 

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have demonstrated that cricket bats with silicone tapes applied on them can prevent the Hot Spot technology from picking up faint edges. This gives batsmen all around the world a potential means to beat the system.

The researchers at MIT have spent six months experimenting on cricket’s decision review system. According to a report in The Telegraph, the researchers brought to the knowledge of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) cricket committee that the use of silicone tapes on bats can prevent edges from being visible on the thermal imaging technology. The committee comprises of Anil Kumble, who is the chairman and other members including Rahul Dravid, Andrew Strauss, Mahela Jayawardene and Darren Lehmann.

The following results confirmed the long-held suspicions on the silicone tapes. The issue first came to notice during the 2013 Ashes when the thermal imaging technology failed to grab up the edges that were picked up by the Snickometer, an audio measuring tool.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sought an 'explanation and apology' from Channel 9 after the network had accused Kevin Pietersen of using tapes to negate the effects of the Hot Spot technology. There were concerns over Pietersen’s second innings dismissal at Old Trafford during that tour and the controversial batsmen tweeted that the accusations were ‘hurtful lies’ and ‘horrible journalism’

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Warren Brennan, the inventor of the technology, has also requested the ICC to put a ban on the use of the tapes in the past, which are used by the batsmen to protect the bat from minor wear and tear.

After the controversies that surrounded the 2013 Ashes, Brennan developed a Real Time Snicko audio technology. It is presently used along with the heat sensing tool by the third umpire and batsmen can be given out despite Hot Spot failing to grab the edge if the Real Time Snicko detects it.

The Hot Spot technology works by the use of two powerful thermal imaging cameras behind the bowler’s arm, which measure the frictional heat that is generated when the ball hits the bat. The cameras are so strong that each of its pixels can determine even a minor change of 0.015 °C. 

Batsmen sometimes have multiple layers of tape on their bat to repair the minor damages, but they can also level the impacts of faint edges due to their nature of being a poor conductor of heat.

Anil Kumble had paid a visit to the MIT labs, where they have developed tools for testing the accuracy of Hawk-Eye and Hot Spot.

It is hoped that the findings from the MIT will help in improving the technology for its universal adoption. The results will now be further discussed later this month at the ICC’s annual meeting in Edinburgh.

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