The instant replay isn't new. In fact, it can be argued that it's the very reason why watching Football is America's favorite Sunday night living room pastime. The implementation of 12 cameras in each end zone brings something new to your big screen TV this NFL season - a 360-degree instant replay. 

Starting with the September 8th Dallas Cowboys home game, fans watching the action on NBC’s Sunday Night Football will see an all-around view of controversial plays in each end zone. As reported by the AP in the Washington Post, the system is produced by Replay Technologies Inc. It will not be used for official review, though fans at the stadium will also be able to watch the replays on AT&T Stadium's scoreboard.

The Hawk-Eye system used in pro tennis uses information provided by cameras positioned around the court's perimeter to track the ball. The final image is a 3D rendering of its position, used to review line calls.

Instant replay was invented to give television viewers reason to tune in. It gave people viewing the event at home a second, closer look at plays, a dimension that they couldn't get live at the game. Since then, they've been adopted by major American sports leagues not just for entertainment, but also for official review. In the NFL, the first instant replay for official review came in 1986. Opponents protested the time it took away from the action, and cited a loss of spontaneity in the game.

Love it or hate it, instant replay has made its way into most major sports. Tennis fans are familiar with Hawk-Eye, first used for official review in 2006. Initially, it was introduced by television networks to provide TV audiences a second look at official line rulings. According to Hawk-Eye, a number of high speed cameras positioned around the stadium track the movement of the tennis ball in play, triangulating data from individual 2D cameras into a 3D representation of the ball's movement. Since its debut as a fan instant replay tool, Hawk-Eye is now used by players to 'challenge' official line rulings.

The system installed at the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium has drawn comparisons to the technology recently unveiled by NHK, a robotic rig capable of bullet-time image capture. One camera directs the movement of eight other sub cameras, all powered individually by motors to pan, tilt and zoom in unison. To see it in action, see DigInfo TV's video below.

Video: Multi-viewpoint Robot Camera System