IBM’s Watson to Deliver Automated Wimbledon Highlights Using AI

Dustin Brown of the U.S. serves during the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships Qualifying on June 25. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

IBM’s cloud-based supercomputer Watson will use artificial intelligence to deliver automated highlights to fans during Wimbledon.

The company has partnered with The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) to implement new technologies for 2018 that will include data insights delivered to fans 15 minutes after an event occurs. They’re also working together on implementing AI solutions that will drive business efficiency (via increased security technologies and a more comprehensive highlights dashboard used by the AELTC editorial team).

IBM says Watson will reveal new insights into what elite athletes need to have success on the court, and, ultimately, to win Wimbledon.

“We want to tell the stories of the phenomenal athleticism of our great players, the gladiatorial nature of the matches they play and explain the sporting narratives that will cut through to our audience,” said Alexandra Willis, AELTC’s head of communications. “IBM’s technology innovations are at the heart of our efforts 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.”

Watson has been busy learning to recognize player emotion gestures and crowd sounds so that it can gauge potential highlights from the six main courts and increase the quality of its output.

With an average of three matches per court, per day, video from matches can quickly add up to hundreds of hours of footage, which would have previously taken hours to pull together into highlight packages. To give some perspective, AI-generated video highlights garnered more than 14 million total views in 2017.

The AI system from IBM auto-curates highlights from key moments, which allows the Wimbledon editorial team to scale and accelerate the video production process across more matches.

Also new this year is The Wimbledon Messenger, a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that will deliver more tennis content to fans, which they can then easily shared with their social networks. The Bot will allow fans to access tailored information on scores, news and players.

SportTechie Takeaway

Wimbledon has been using various components of artificial intelligence through IBM since 2015. Now, however, the tournament is focusing on using AI and machine learning to analyze huge sets of data to provide fans with a more immersive experience.

For years technology has enabled leagues and teams to collect substantial amounts of data, but until recently, harnessing that data in meaningful ways was difficult. The application of AI and machine learning to that Big Data is finally making that feasible.