New POV With ‘Ref Cam’

BRISTOL, CONN.—A new sports coverage tool was used for the first time during ESPN’s Friday Night Fights and Noche de Combates event on July 18. The “Ref Cam,” a wearable point-of-view camera was donned by both referees at the match that took place at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, N.Y. The device, according to the sports network, is designed to provide viewers with a unique close-up “first-person” view of the action taking place in the ring.

ESPN launched its “Ref Cam” during its “Friday Night Fights” event last month. “We are always looking to innovate and provide viewers access to things they cannot have access to themselves,” said Matt Sandulli, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer. “This camera will put viewers in the ring and give them a view of the fight that only a limited number of people in the world have ever seen. We’d like to thank the New York Athletic Commission and referees Steve Willis and Pete Santiago for working with us to make this happen.”

The tiny camera is worn on the referee’s shirt and weighs less than 8 ounces. Its footprint is about that of a dime’s and it’s fastened to the ref’s clothing with a lapel pin. The accompanying beltpack RF transmission system is equally miniscule, measuring a mere 3.5-by-3.5-by-0.8-inches, complete with batteries. The camera provides HD 720p pictures and was made by 3G Wireless.

James E. O'Neal

James E. O’Neal has more than 50 years of experience in the broadcast arena, serving for nearly 37 years as a television broadcast engineer and, following his retirement from that field in 2005, moving into journalism as technology editor for TV Technology for almost the next decade. He continues to provide content for this publication, as well as sister publication Radio World, and others.  He authored the chapter on HF shortwave radio for the 11th Edition of the NAB Engineering Handbook, and serves as editor-in-chief of the IEEE’s Broadcast Technology publication, and as associate editor of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal. He is a SMPTE Life Fellow, and a Life Member of the IEEE and the SBE.