A new system, developed by QinetiQ, was used during the Oxford and Cambridge boat race.

The company used a Global Positioning System (GPS) device and electromagnetic sensor equipment which successfully captured real-time stroke rate, boat speed, distance travelled and timing.

The course was measured using new precise methods, thanks to the company's 21st century technology.

Fierce rivalry has existed between the two university teams for nearly 150 years, and critics say the introduction of the new methods of precision has opened up a new dimension to the whole racing experience.

This year's race saw boats equipped with the latest GPS supplied by QinetiQ, which is Europe's largest science and technology organisation.

GPS readings were sent once every second for boat position and speed, as well as relaying the various times achieved to reach important historic timing landmarks.

Rowers' stroke rates were measured by an electromagnetic device mounted on the underneath of the rower's seat, and the technology revealed that winners Oxford rowed 69 yards further than Cambridge.

Oxford's peak stroke rate was 51 strokes per minute at the start of the race, which can be compared to Cambridge's 45 strokes per minute.

And for the first time in the long, distinguished history of the race, the length of the course was accurately measured, with the total distance travelled being four miles and 50 yards.

A spokesman from QinetiQ was delighted by the results, saying: "Overall it was a resounding success. We captured all of the data we wanted.

"Data was fed on to the screens constantly and our equipment worked just as we hoped.

"I can't speak for the viewers themselves, millions though they were, but what I can tell you is that commentators certainly found the information very beneficial.

"It was additional information for them, which revealed more about what the rowers were experiencing."

Pictured are Dr Peter Aves (left) and Geoff Hatto, key members of the QinetiQ team that developed the new technology.