Olympics Countdown: How are false starts detected?

 

What is a false start?

Scientific research has shown that a reaction time faster than one tenth of a second is impossible for a human, so a false start is defined as a reaction that occurs within this time after the gun has fired.

How is it detected?

At the 2012 London Olympics, Omega will be unveiling a brand new starting block to measure the runners’ reaction time. The blocks measure the pressure exerted by a runner’s feet and relays this to a computer, which also measures the time from the firing of the pistol to one tenth of a second later. If an increase in the pressure exerted by the feet is detected during that split second, a false start is declared.

How is this relayed to the starter?

The starter will then receive a signal from the computer via an earpiece and will fire the gun again to alert the runners to the false start. Checks will be made to ensure no technical malfunctions occurred before a false start is officially declared.

What’s so special about the new Omega technology?

The new Omega blocks have incorporated the Quantum Timer and Quantum Aquatic Timer, which can achieve a resolution of one millionth of a second, 100 times more accurate than the previous technology used.

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