IBM to serve up AI initiatives at Wimbledon

IT software company IBM has outlined a series of artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives that will be introduced through its partnership with the All England Club for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.

IBM, which has been the official supplier of IT technology to the tennis grand slam for 28 years, will enhance the ‘My Wimbledon Story’ feature in the tournament’s official applications – a feature that was introduced last year. For the 2017 event, the applications will feature the Ask Fred “cognitive assistant” bot that will be able to answer a variety of questions in relation to the event, whilst also providing information about dining options and an interactive map.

Meanwhile new AI-powered automated video highlights will be provided for Wimbledon visitors by using so-called IBM Watson software and other video and audio technologies to bring to life the tournament’s most exciting moments from the six main show courts.

The AI system, created by IBM Research scientists and IBM iX consultants, will auto-curate highlights based on analysis of crowd noise, players’ movements and match data to focus on the biggest moments in matches. A 360-degree camera view will also be provided from the practice courts to give fans a unique view of the Championships.

IBM, which tested out its AI-powered system at the Masters golf tournament in April, will also offer SlamTracker – a cross-platform application providing real-time statistics and insights – and the updated Keys to the Match service, which will offer more detailed information, such as pace of play and serve placement.

Additionally, the What Makes Great service will use historical data to identify and compare key tennis performance measures.

“In an increasingly competitive sporting landscape, IBM’s technology innovations are critical to continuing our journey towards a great digital experience that ensures we connect with our fans across the globe – wherever they may be watching and from whatever device that may be,” Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital at the All England Club, said. “With help from IBM, we are providing new on-site features in the smartphone apps such as the Ask Fred assistant, allowing fans to plan their day at the Championships and make the most of their visit.

“Similarly, we are working with IBM to access additional insights in order for our fans to truly understand and share the moments that matter. This year, a combination of design and data driven content and insights will provide fans with the unique Wimbledon experience they expect and more.”

Sam Seddon, IBM’s client and programme executive for Wimbledon, added: “At the heart of Wimbledon’s technology are IBM’s cognitive solutions delivering the best insights and analysis possible to the All England Club to encourage great fan engagement. 

“Cognitive computing is the next revolution in sports technology and working with us, Wimbledon is exposed to the foremost frontier of what technology can do, as we work together to achieve the best possible outcome for the brand and the event. Cognitive is now pervasive from driving the fan experience, to providing efficiency for digital editors to IT operations.”