The US Open, Unites States’ biggest tennis tournament pits 256 players against one another who compete for more than $50 million in prize money. The recently concluded 2018 US Open held in Flushing Meadows, Queens had total prize money of $53 Million. The US Open witnesses a quarter-million points scored during the two-week tournament in New York City, where at any given time 17 matches may be in progress.
This translates to a huge amount of both structured and unstructured data, and to drive intelligent insights from these data sources the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) digital team last year announced that it would collaborate with IBM Watson and deploy its platform to drive AI-powered highlights for fans. The USTA has extended the same technology for those on the court. The IBM Watson powered artificial intelligence system will assist the USTA to go through and sort thousands of daily highlights to select the best ones using its own scoring system. This technology will make the most highly scored highlights to be watched by fans almost instantly.
Cognitive Highlights by IBM Watson
Watson has developed a new system, named Cognitive Highlights which measures the volume of the crowd, commentators’ analysis, and reactions of the players’. Each variable is analyses on a score from 0 to 1 to determine the Overall Excitement score. Players reaction like yelling and fist-pumping gains higher point to generate a higher score than when the player pats their racket against their leg.
The Cognitive Highlights system was first rolled out at the Masters golf tournament in April when it was restricted to internal deployment, with the Augusta National team using Cognitive Highlights system as a guide as to analyze the highlights to feature on its app and website. Watson’s algorithm will stack which clips are worthy, and those videos will be programmed to stream directly on the phones of those users who have downloaded the US Open app and opted in. Fans will have the discretion to choose which players’ highlights they want to be delivered on their phones.
Artificial Intelligence to Improve Players Performance
Artificial Intelligence powered IBM Watson analyses game footage to collate key points, to help coaches build reports on the players’ performance for future improvements. USTA’s general manager of player development, Martin Blackman added that Artificial Intelligence powered technology improves analysis process thus freeing up valuable time of the tournament’s participants.
Analysing previous match’s footage takes a lot of time and involves many hours of manual match tagging. Watson will take minutes to execute the time-consuming process of video tagging that earlier took hours all-together. Additionally, IBM is working to add further improvements to its Cognitive Highlights service for fans by analyzing all the footage including the crowd’s reaction to present the shot of the day. The AI-powered platform will analyze all the matches played on one of the seven courts to point key shots as part of its AI Highlights builder, designed to simplify the process for the USTA digital team.
Valuable Player Insights
Technologists are hopeful that the partnership will help to improve the supporters experience by introducing an AI chatbot Virtual Concierge to Facebook Messenger, to help supporters with the score, player and venue information. IBM additionally is working to develop its statistics and data platform SlamTracker to add the changes in momentum during the match.
SlamTracker has been deployed into tennis tournaments for a number of years to collate player’s score and analyze millions of data points from previous competitions. This information is valuable as it helps to predict how the player can improve his/her performance and improve the game by providing analysis and a real-time view of the momentum shifts in the game.
The US Open offers multitudes of data information aggregated from multiple courts over the course of the match. To ensure constant fan engagement IBM’s AI technology is ensuring fans are keeping pace throughout the tournament and following matches to navigate their time on the US Open grounds.
Artificial intelligence is poised to improve your sports experience, and beginnings have been made towards that. Be ready for an exciting analysis and a game-watching experience that was never before.