17 Juillet 2017

Seiko timing and measurement technology, supporting the best athletes in the world

The 16th Edition of the IAAF World Championships will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, London from Friday 4th until Sunday 13th August and will welcome the best track and field athletes in the world.


Thanks to scientific advances in training, equipment, nutrition and track surfaces, athletes' performances have progressed greatly in recent years and the differences in the times and distances they achieve become less. As a result, it is vital that the technology responsible for measuring these performances and generating the results is also continually improving.

In London the official timing and measurement provider, Seiko, will be enhancing all its systems and continuing to introduce new technologies to ensure the athletes can be 100% certain that their performance is accurately and precisely measured.

In the Field, the Long and Triple Jump competitions will be measured by the Seiko Video Distance Measurement System which uses strategically placed cameras to record each landing in the sand pit. The stereoscopic camera technology allows a series of images to be taken including images of the sand before during and after a jump. In the Seiko Control Centre, high up in the stadium, the images are displayed on computer screens - the before and after shots make it very easy to determine the first break in the sand - and the VDM system calculates the length of the jump. Official judges oversee the whole process and approve the results before they are issued.


In London, a newly developed VDM system will also be used as the official secondary system for the Shot Put events - after post event analysis of the results by the IAAF, it is hoped that at the next World Championships VDM will also be the primary official measurement system for Shot Put, so that the distances can be measured faster and more accurately, just as they are already in the jump events.

On the Track the two most important systems are at the start and at the finish. The Seiko Electronic Start System was first introduced in 1995 and is now the basis of all electronic start systems worldwide. There have been many enhancements over this period to assist the officials who make the crucial decisions on false starts and other starting practices. The system now includes monitors for the officials to better review start data and video footage for judges to better apply the false start rules. These rules state that at reaction time of less than 0.100 second is a technical false start and with the power of today's athletes, an advantage of just 0.001 second could equate to an advantage of 1cm at the finish; it is therefore vital that competitors are confident that each athlete is measured fairly and all infringements are flagged.



The Seiko Photo Finish System manages the finish of all track races. Images taken of the leading edge of the finish line are taken at a rate of 2,000 per second by special cameras and stored to create an image based on time. The official judges are able to scrutinise this image from both sides of the finish line and also expand the image to enable them to allocate the exact finish time to each athlete. Times are recorded to 1/1,000th of a second and are rounded up to the nearest 1/100th of a second. For example 9.970 becomes 9.97 but 9.972 becomes 9.98.

Seiko is committed to ensuring that all athletes are fully supported at these World Championships with the best technical operators plus state-of-the-art technology ensuring a fair and level playing field for all. The Seiko team comprises almost 60 engineers drawn from both Seiko's Japan and UK sports timing resources.