How AI is serving up aces at Wimbledon – and what the technology means for the future of sport

  • IBM’s new AI tool can watch Wimbledon simultaneously across more than 18 courts.
  • Tennis highlights and results packages can be created within two minutes of a match finishing.
  • Wearable tech and real-time performance trackers are among the technologies transforming the world of sport.

What’s the best way to watch Wimbledon?

With more than 18 courts playing up to four matches a day, keeping track of tennis results and highlights can be tricky.

Unless you’re called Watson.

Luckily for Wimbledon watchers globally, cutting-edge technology known as IBM Watson is watching every game simultaneously – and creating highlights packages within two minutes of a match finishing.

“Each day, hundreds of hours of footage are produced [at Wimbledon], which would ordinarily take a team of editors a huge amount of time to compile into highlights packages,” IBM says in its film, How does AI identify match highlights?

Instead, Watson continuously tracks the action and ranks every point.

The AI technology learns by “watching player reactions, listening to crowd excitement levels and analyzing the gameplay statistics,” IBM explains.

AI from IBM is also powering new player performance and fact sheet tools for Wimbledon fans. These combine advanced statistical analysis, natural language processing technology and cloud computing to analyse sources including media commentary and player performance.

Technology isn’t just changing how we watch Wimbledon.

In the United States, professional services network Deloitte is helping golf fans follow and replay every shot of the 2021 US Open and US Women’s Open tournaments on their phones in augmented reality (AR).

Deloitte worked with the United States Golf Association (USGA) to develop the augmented reality app, called U.S. Open AR.

It allows fans to follow the action with three-dimensional views of all 18 championship holes on both courses. Fans can also use the app to find players, compare their performance with anyone in the field and watch real-time shot tracking in AR.

Another way AI is being utilized in professional sport is at the coaching level.

Real-time performance trackers and wearable tech like smart clothing are among the technologies transforming sport across a range of areas from training to injury prevention.

Data-driven analysis of players’ movements provides coaches with invaluable information about what is and isn’t working on their team and “can help the trainer determine what aspects each athlete needs to focus on more,” according to Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration.

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