IBM Gave U.S. Open Viewers A New Way Of Watching Tennis
The tournament featured data analysis and captions created by IBM Watson in real time
We’ve seen IBM Watson take on trivia on Jeopardy, but what insights may the intelligent robot provide to the world of tennis? Using a special interface called the Slamtracker, Watson was able to automatically generate captions and analyses for the different matches during the U.S. Open, even in real time. The data-processing machine takes information from officials and on-court speed tracking radar to mark what spots the player has marked the most points in, how the player might come out of a losing situation, among other relevant information.
All of the data is processed by Apache Spark, a data-processing tool hosted on IBM’s Bluemix.
IBM program manager John Kent told Fast Company that these recaps are for more than just reliving the best parts of the match, especially for the players:
“We provide the players with a USB key shortly after their match that has video of their match. Not just like a DVR kind-of version where they can fast-forward through their match [to specific moments], but we also index it to all the points and statistics.”
The system also automatically adds subtitles to match commentaries and to player interviews, creating Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant transcripts for deaf fans of the sports at a speed faster than any human typist could provide.
IBM estimated before the tournament launch that 15 million viewers would use the U.S. Open’s website and apps to keep track of the action, meaning that Watson got plenty of chances to show off its analytical prowess.
If the feature works well, Watson may be implemented in other IBM digitally supported events like the other Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the Masters Golf Tournament, and the Tony Awards.