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Intel, Alibaba unveil AI-powered athlete tracking technology

US technology company Intel and Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba have teamed up to develop new athlete-tracking technology, which they hope will be utilised at the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The technology is powered by artificial intelligence and utilises Intel hardware and Alibaba cloud computing technology. The initiative will extract 3D forms of athletes in training through a cutting-edge deep-learning application.

Intel said that the combination of computer vision with AI deep-learning algorithms will generate a 3D mesh, which can be used by coaches and trainers to extract intricate real-time biomechanical data. The data can be extracted through standard video cameras and will not require special sensors or suits. Coaches and trainers can then analyse performance and introduce new training enhancements.

As well as providing athletes with new training data, Intel hopes that initiative will provide fans with greater insight into how athletes perform and compare against one another.

Navin Shenoy, Intel executive vice-president and general manager at Data Center Group, said: “Optimised to run on Alibaba Cloud infrastructure, Intel developed a novel technology concept called ‘3D Athlete Tracking’ that uses AI to analyse video of athletes in ways that are expected to improve both the training process and has the potential to enhance the audience experience during actual competition.

“This technology has incredible potential as an athlete training tool and is expected to be a game-changer for the way fans experience the Games, creating an entirely new way for broadcasters to analyse, dissect and re-examine highlights during instant replays.”

Chris Tung, chief marketing officer at Alibaba Group, added: “We are proud to partner with Intel on the first-ever AI-powered 3D athlete tracking technology where Alibaba contributes its best-in-class cloud computing capability and algorithmic design.

“With our technological advancements, Alibaba is transforming the sports media and broadcasting industries. We continue to collaborate with industry leaders and drive innovations to create new experiences for the world to enjoy.”

Both Intel and Alibaba are Worldwide Olympic Partners of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).