For more than two decades, IBM has served as the official information technology supplier to Wimbledon, one of the biggest events on the international pro tennis calendar. This year, the company will introduce Cognitive Highlights, a cutting edge project that will use artificial intelligence to give fans front-row seats to all the biggest moments from the tournament.
Wimbledon is a 13-day event, and hundreds of hours of video footage will be accumulated over the course of the competition. A total of 18 grass courts will play host to the best players in the world, but highlight packages haven’t been traditionally produced for matches played outside of the most popular courts. The streamlined process offered up by IBM’s technology means that fans will have better access to a broader selection of play than ever before.
Cognitive Highlights is a project developed by IBM Research in collaboration with IBM iX. It was first shown off at the 2017 Masters Golf Tournament, where a proof-of-concept prototype was able to select the best shots of the most compelling moments from a live video feed.
A newer version of the tech is being called into action for Wimbledon, and it goes above and beyond what we’ve seen before. Using computer vision and other advanced AI technologies, Cognitive Highlights will assess footage and automatically produce highlight packages for individual matches that will be rolled out across digital platforms shortly after play comes to a close.
The system works by combining information recorded by an on-court statistician with data from an array of different sensors. Everything from the number of aces accomplished by a particular player to the speed of individual serves is taken into account.
Cognitive Highlights pairs this data with an analysis of how the crowd responded to particularly exciting moments. The system was trained to recognize cheering from the crowd and how players reacted, using audio and video footage gathered at previous iterations of the Championships.
AI has come a long way in recent years, and we’re starting to see some hugely effective applications for the technology, doing jobs that would be too time-consuming or otherwise impractical for a human. Cognitive Highlights certainly fits that mold, and it looks set to give tennis fans more of the Wimbledon coverage they crave when the Championships get underway on July 3.