Sunday, April 01, 2012

Umpires Retraining and Other Royal Club News

All Scottish umpires have been asked to attend a series of retraining courses. This follows from the new partnership agreement reached between our governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, and the Apple Store UK. The sponsorship will see iPads issued to all umpires, and the courses will cover the uses to which these devices will be put.

The plan is to use the iPads at all Royal Club competitions. One umpire will be responsible for photographing the scoreboard after each end of every game and these photos will be sent and uploaded to the competitions' page of the Royal Club's website. This means of course that there will no longer be the need for anyone to attend events to do the live scoring, saving money for our governing body.

A new app for the iPad will help the umpires as it will do away with measuring. With a small GPS tracker fitted under each stone handle, every stone can be uniquely identified and its position anywhere on the rink and in the circles can be calculated exactly by the app, and the results made available to the game umpire. It's accurate to 0.001 mm, so even close measures will not be a problem.

The unusually shaped laser measuring device introduced last year (see here) is to be phased out.

The umpires' new iPad app can also detect when stones are moving or not. It becomes possible to calculate automatically each team's 'thinking time' (when their stones are not in motion) during a game, and this information easily transmitted to screens next to the scoreboards. That of course means that timekeepers will no longer be required at events. Again, this is more money saving for our governing body which we must applaud in these stringent times. I'm just a little disappointed that the sight of timekeepers sitting out on the carpet, getting cold, and drinking cups of tea, will be consigned to history. Ah well, such is progress.

However, timekeepers will not become redundant. At major events, they will be responsible for filming the games, using their new iPads. That's another reason for the additional training courses on iPad use. The plan is that footage of games from the roving iPads, together with video from any permanent fixed cameras at rinks (such as those at Braehead), will be fed over the ether to a special media centre at Cairnie House. One person – perhaps Alan Stanfield or Dor Borthwick or Harold Forrester if they pass the Level XIII iPad certification course first time – will sit in front of a bank of screens switching from one to the other, and ensuring that the output goes out live to all members via the Royal Club's YouTube channel.

iPad footage will of course be used to enforce the new disciplinary code. Chances are if you bang your brush in the future, this will be caught on camera and every RCCC member will be able to see the infringement for themselves, either live, or by video on demand, at no charge. “You can bang, but you can't hide.”

There is to be a new 'Cameraperson of the Year' award at the Royal Club's Gala Awards Dinner.

The partnership with the Apple Store will have other benefits. In due course, every Royal Club member will receive their own iPhone. For top players and coaches this will have an immediate benefit. A new app has been developed which tracks a stone being delivered, using the aforementioned GPS sensor in each stone handle. The iPhone is mounted on the player's brush. The Stonefollower app measures how quickly a stone travels between the tee and the hog when being delivered, calculates immediately where the stone will finish at the far end of the sheet and SHOUTS this out all the way down the ice. Players need no longer worry about doing anything themselves. This improvement over the use of manual timing is sure to bring much more accuracy into the game.

The Stonefollower app's shouted 'voice' can be changed, from the Joe Pasquale default. The Brian Blessed and Darth Vader voices are sure to be popular. Victor Meldrew will please the older curler, and for those seeking a sexier shout, look no further than Sean Connery. Or perhaps Marilyn Munroe, “FIVE! This one's ….. going into …. the house.”

It's Goldie Hawn for me though.

It is in the realm of better communications that the new IT and social media partnerships will benefit all Royal Club members. Project Blue Bird is a tie in with Twitter, which came about when Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter and creative director, was researching the origins of his surname, and discovered the link with our sport of curling. The upshot is that each member's iPhone will have its own dedicated Twitter account, and members will be encouraged to use this to record any curling related information, such as the results of every game they play, photographs, or gossip. Top players and commentators are doing this already. The difference now is that all this information will be relayed immediately to all 14,000 members' phones. Just imagine if every Royal Club member tweeted after every end of every game. That really would be 'social interaction'! And if every member commented on every tweet they received, this being relayed to all members too. The curling twittersphere in future is sure to be chirpy chirpy cheeping big time.

And no, you cannot turn off the Twitter feeds when you get your new phone.

Two new members of staff, Richard Bird and Fay Tality, have been hired by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club to implement the Project Blue Bird strategy. They will attend all committee meetings, including those of the Board, write the minutes of the meetings in 140 characters or less, and fire these off to all members, via Twitter, within thirty minutes of the meeting finishing. This will be much better that the two week turnaround in minute distribution which the Club is currently trying to achieve.

“It's a new era for Royal Club communications,” said Dickie when asked about the strategy. I reminded him that many of the Royal Club's members are not familiar with the use of smart phones, and, indeed, are a bit traditionalist. “We are converting the old board room at Cairnie House into a pigeon loft,” he said, “and members can receive our tweets via their own pigeon, should they prefer.”

You'll recognise Dickie and Fay easily at competitions. They will be the first to be wearing the new Royal Club uniform – the traditional blue jacket, but now with yellow and blue shorts, see here.

Expect to see all Directors, Area Representatives, Ladies' Standing Committee members, and Scottish teams, wearing the jacket and shorts combination soon.

#Iloveumpires #RoyalClubCommunications #ProjectBlueBird #mypidgeonscalledpolly #April1