IBM has touted the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in its tech services it offers to the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and its annual Wimbledon tennis tournament.

It should be noted that IBM has a long-term 30 year relationship with AELTC and it has previously touted the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in past years that has helped drive new spectator-focused technologies for fans to enjoy.

Big Blue has also long been involved in artificial intelligence. An AI machine, IBM’s Project Debater, last year held its own in a public debate with human beings. The machine apparently spoke, listened and rebutted a human’s arguments in what was considered a groundbreaking display of artificial intelligence.

AI Wimbledon

IBM said that its AI expertise has helped “ensure The Championships runs safely and securely for its critical three-week period.”

And new for this year is the news that IBM has used “enhanced AI-powered automated video highlights for Wimbledon fans.”

IBM pointed out that Watson for example learns that for the highlights service, a highly passionate crowd favourite could generate more excitement than a more reserved yet equally skilled opponent. Watson learns from this and has been taught to better recognise acoustics and understand inadvertent bias increasing the quality of the output.

The sound analysis from Watson Acoustics, for example means the system can now recognise when the ball has been struck, allowing a tighter cropping of highlight clips saving vital time and maximising every second of rights footage.

Another new development has seen IBM and Wimbledon developing “a progressive web app to provide a service for Wimbledon audiences in territories with lower bandwidth and less developed mobile hardware.”

It point to the fact that there are over 900 million fans in India for example, who express an interest in Wimbledon. The new web app is “designed to provide a lightweight experience to ensure that fans in those territories can make sure they don’t miss out on the latest scores and results.”

Securing the tournament

And IBM also works to secure Wimbledon’s digital properties from external threats.

Big Blue pointed out that during the 2018 Championships it had detected and blocked over 200 million suspicious security events.

Indeed, IBM is said to have over 200 of its people working at the Wimbledon event.

“For 30 years we have been working with Wimbledon to introduce new technologies that enhance fan experience,” said Sam Seddon IBM Wimbledon client executive.

“It seems fitting that to mark the 30th year of our partnership, one of the new innovations for The Championships, Wimbledon 2019 will be eliminating bias in creation of the video highlights package,” Seddon added.

“Our partnership with IBM is critical to us in helping us to disrupt the traditional perceptions of Wimbledon through innovative, world-class uses of technology, in particular, enabling us to place content with fans where they want to consume it and acknowledge the ever-increasing focus on video and new content formats,” said Alexandra Willis, Head of Communications, Content and Digital at AELTC.

Quiz: Do you know all about IBM, the founder of the IT industry?

Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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