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Watson Gives Players an Edge at US Open Tennis Championships

IBM Watson is partnering with tennis players and coaches to enhance their game strategy and better prepare for matches. As a partner of the US Open tournament for more than 25 years, IBM and the USTA will integrate its AI Highlights technology into player performance as the tournament enters the next phase of its technology journey.

For the past year, IBM has been working with the USTA Player Development's performance team to develop a technology solution that will help coaches and players analyze and improve their performance. The new player development solution uses AI Highlights, enabling them to create real-time content to engage their fans. It also reviews hours of match footage and automatically identifies and indexes key points and stats, allowing coaches to design reports for subsequent matches. This enables coaches to reference and review a comprehensive database of players' indexed match video that they otherwise would not have been able to access.

"Coaches and tennis players look to video as a useful resource that helps to evaluate players and develop scouting reports before and during tournaments. Working with IBM enables us to process and index video using AI to free up valuable intellectual capital that we can re-allocate to more interpretive and customized analysis," said Martin Blackman, General Manager, USTA Player Development. "Analyzing footage of previous matches is normally very time-intensive, involving many hours of manual 'match-tagging.' Video tagging that used to take hours can now take Watson minutes to execute."

Two new AI Highlights solutions will be available for the USTA Digital Team:

  • An AI Highlight dashboard that will populate in near real-time every shot of a match and its excitement level. The US Open Digital Team will be able to view and find the most exciting shot of the day or the match and leverage this content across all their digital channels, including social media.

  • An AI Highlight builder will allow the US Open Digital Team to generate a highlight video for any match played on one of the seven show courts. The system will generate a list of proposed points to be included in the highlights package. Once shots are selected from the list, the system generates the highlights package for the USTA Digital Team to publish.

New features to evolve the real-time fan experience:

  • On Facebook Messenger and all US Open digital platforms, Virtual Concierge gives fans access to an AI-powered chatbot. Enabled by Watson services, the chatbot answers questions about scoring, schedules, transportation, and dining options. Depending on the question, the Virtual Concierge may also direct users to their points of interest within an interactive map of the venue, which will also indicate an attendee's current location.

  • The SlamTracker experience now includes a "momentum" feature, so at a glance, fans can see who has advantage as well as the shifts in momentum over the course of all live matches. SlamTracker also provides scores, stats and insights for all matches in progress, giving US Open fans a level of analysis and engagement.

"The US Open offers an enormous amount of tennis across multiple courts over the two weeks of the tournament. We're proud to be able offer multiple fan experiences both on-site at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center, and on the official US Open digital platforms that serve millions of fans around the world," said Noah Syken, VP of Sports & Entertainment Partnerships, IBM.

"AI technology will help fans follow matches and navigate their time on the US Open grounds. While we're seeing this type of technology come to life through tennis, these AI-powered solutions also are impacting many other industries," said Syken.

Article published by Anna Hill
Image credit by IBM
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