Artificial Intelligence Brings Fresh Insight to the U.S. Open

By: Joe Hewitson| - Leave a comment


Ever wonder what kind of sorcery it takes to produce those highlight-reel moments during your favorite sporting events? Well, when it comes to tennis, that magic has a name — and it goes by Watson.

IBM’s artificial intelligence savant is powering these moments at this year’s U.S. Open in New York, according to AdWeek. Those tuning in to matches via TV, mobile device or in person can witness Watson’s handiwork. As impressive as it is to automate real-time video editing, the way Watson accomplishes this is even more compelling.

To cut key-moment footage in the heat of a competitive set, Watson digs into two distinct sources of data. One is an immense pile of precompiled data collected over the past 12 years of tournament play — dubbed Slam Data, AdWeek notes. This includes metadata about the players themselves and how they play the game, as well as higher-level aspects of play like pace and duration.

The other source of data is the crowd itself. IBM’s cloud-based AI platform can leverage its own cognitive prowess to study the reaction of the spectators and players. This ability allows Watson to engage audiences by delivering insightful stats, clips and scores as the action plays out on the court.

How important are those insights? Elizabeth O’Brien, IBM’s program director of sports and entertainment partnerships, says it best.

“If you’re sitting there, there are 17 courts of play happening,” she told AdWeek. “Every point on each one of those courts is a potential highlight. So if you’re a broadcaster and you have to put up a highlight, you’re looking at thousands of potential highlights, so Watson can actually take them and say, ‘You know, these are the potential highlights.'”

Watson Provides Concierge Services

This isn’t Watson’s first foray into insightful sports analysis, either. The AI platform cut its teeth on Wimbledon and the Masters golf tournament among others. As it turns out, Watson has a few other tricks up its sleeve too.

Thanks to its Cognitive Concierge chatbot, attendees will feel right at home during the tournament. Watson’s AI capabilities use natural-language processing to field questions for those in attendance. Users can pull up the Watson-powered app to find food and drinks or simply ask a question about the current match. Watson answered 56,000 questions last year and already passed 8,000 on the first day of this year’s tournament, AdWeek reports.

Watson showcases the ability of artificial intelligence to conduct real-time, cloud-based analysis using a bevy of cutting-edge technologies. The result is a platform that improves the experience for millions of fans while powering revenue opportunity for the USTA. That’s what we call a win-win situation.

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About The Author

Joe Hewitson

News Writer

With a degree in Applied Computing Technology and over a decade of service in the IT and Software Development industries, Joe Hewitson has acquired a keen ability to write about emerging technologies and the impact they have on businesses in many different industries. Accompanying his love for all things tech is a passion for writing informed and engaging pieces in a unique and easy to understand voice. Living in the beautiful arms of the Rocky Mountains, Joe is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys running, biking, and fishing.