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Watson makes its debut in the U.S. Open mobile app, making tennis fans smarter than ever

The Williams sisters may be making early headlines at the U.S. Open, but there’s another “W” that’s also winning over fans. IBM Watson has made its official debut at the tennis tournament, and is serving as a new cognitive concierge within the games’ official mobile apps.

For the first time, the U.S. Open mobile app Guest Services companion will be equipped with a Watson-enabled discovery tool that allows fans to access information more seamlessly than ever before. Thanks to Watson’s natural language processing abilities, guests can ask questions as they would a live concierge, and find information on topics ranging from transportation and directions to food and drink options to on-site services and facilities.

“We’re excited to introduce IBM Watson’s game-changing cognitive computing power to the US Open’s digital platform,” said Noah Syken, vice president of Global Sponsorships and Client Executive Programs, IBM. “Watson is revolutionizing the way fans can navigate the tournament this year. By tapping into unstructured data, Watson is enabling us to extract and apply insights that can improve how people engage with technology on-site, making their experiences more meaningful and natural.”

After all, if Watson can beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy, it can certainly help you find your way around Arthur Ashe stadium. And thanks to the AI system’s machine learning capabilities, the app improves over time, continuously learning from previous questions to refine its answers.

Of course, Watson is more than a concierge. The USTA is also taking advantage of other AI capabilities to bring fans and analysts alike real-time analysis and insights about the tournament. For example, the Watson Speech-to-Text API will “listen” to video-on-demand clips of player interviews and tournament action, then generate subtitles and transcripts for content published to the web and other digital platforms. And thanks to the Watson Visual Recognition API, spotting players and celebrities across the courts has never been easier.

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And as the Open proceeds to its tenser, higher-stakes matches, fans can depend on their mobile devices for the first time to access the real-time SlamTracker analytics technology. This helps fans access current and historical player, match, and tournament data, promising “an unprecedented level of analysis, insight, and engagement.” For example, the SlamTracker’s new “pressure situations” feature displays a player’s historical performance, which grants “hidden patterns in player and match dynamics.”

“We’re thrilled to have IBM Watson come to the US Open because it places an intelligent engagement platform directly into the hands of attendees that can answer their questions and provide the most relevant information and points of interest,” said Kirsten Corio, managing director, Ticket Sales and Digital Strategy, USTA. “Each year, IBM designs, develops and delivers a compelling digital experience that enables us to engage, entertain, and inform our fans in entirely new ways, while transforming how they encounter and enjoy the tournament.”