Given the fast pace at which professional cricket is played, even the best umpires in the business tend to miss out on a few crucial details. As a result, they are aided by the third umpire, who in turn, needs some of the sharpest technological tools around to make sound decisions. Hot Spot is one such tool that has been developed to determine where a batsman has been struck by the ball.

There are times when the naked eye cannot decipher a faint edge on the willow. This is when Hot Spot, an infra-red imaging system is called into play. This is not a standard practice yet, but it does help out in taking critical calls. Apart from determining faint edges, this tool is also used for making close lbw decisions.

This system uses the same technology that is used for tank and jet fighter tracking, which was founded by a French scientist called Nicholas Bion. It was adapted for cricket by an Australian company called BBG Sports. This company has also developed the now-famous Snickometer in association with Sky Sports (UK).

Hot Spot basically uses two infra-red cameras positioned at either end of the cricket ground. The friction generated by the ball hitting the pad, bat, ground or glove is sensed and measured by these high-powered cameras. Then, the ball's precise point of contact is determined with the help of a subtraction technique as a result of which a series of black-and-white negative frames is generated into a computer. As a result, this technology can be used in real-time once it's synced.

While it might not always be used for making decisions, Hot Spot is used as part of broadcast packages. While this technology is much more accurate than the Snickometer, it is quite expensive--it costs 6,000 and $10,000 per day, respectively, to employ the services of two and four Hot Spot cameras respectively.

Besides, this technology was also in the news for all the wrong reasons during India's disastrous tour of England in 2011. Rahul Dravid was given out on a couple of occasions despite Hot Spot not conclusively proving this.

So it's safe to say that there's still a long way to go as far as perfecting Hot Spot is concerned--the price factor, of course, being the biggest obstacle in this regard. That, and it's unquestioned reliability and accuracy.