Wimbledon: Cool Servers Score With Tennis Viewers

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Screens in Wimbledon IBM technology bunker

This year, Wimbledon goes 3D and IBM’s liquid-cooled systems serve deeper analysis to the audience

Open source beats Microsoft for security

Banning Microsoft, From a security perspective, the Championship IT infrastructure is trialling an open source firewall from one of its security software and appliances acquisitions, Internet Security Systems (ISS). “This IDS [intrusion detection system] acts like a security guard at the door of a nightclub, stopping any packets that look suspicious from getting in and examining them for malware, viruses and so on,” Flack said.

He added that 90 percent of the malicious attacks the ISS firewall prevents during the Wimbledon fortnight are aimed at Microsoft systems. That’s why you won’t see any Microsoft kit in the IBM technology bunker. “We run on AIX and Linux,” he added.

Wimbledon.com screen showing IBM match and player stats

Besides the new kit behind the scenes, the new Wimbledon.com also features an online scoreboard that does more than just display the score. “We used to just do data,” Flack said. “But now we’re using predictive analytics to pull out trends and different key characteristics of each player, like their stamina, strongest shot and aggressiveness ratio.”

Using IBM PointStream and predictive analytics technology, five years of historical Grand Slam tennis data – amounting to almost 40 million competitive points – plus every statistic recorded at Wimbledon since 1877 has been analysed to identify the key aspects of a player’s performance when they played at their best.

Live data meets historical info

By incorporating specific match history data based on previous tournament meetings with live scores, IBM PointStream also analyses each opponent’s historical pattern of play to identifies the top three “keys to the match” that each player needs to achieve to be at the top of their game. For example, a “key” could be the percentage of first serves won or the number of points won in less than three rallies.

At Wimbledon.com IBM PointStream is also being used to track other show court statistics, match aces, service speed and point winners to provide online fans with a virtual courtside experience.

During play, live results and player performance are compared against the suggested keys and results are displayed online in a visual representation of the match. And players on the show courts are given a rundown of their performance statistics after they finish each match.

The idea is that fans, coaches, players and commentators can now use this insight combined with real-time match data to understand where players need to focus their game in order to compete more effectively.

In fact, there are few statistics about the players and matches IBM does not currently collect. These are all made available to the BBC production team, who mix IBM’s data and graphics with their live television feeds.

First 3D broadcast

This is the first year the graphical objects themselves are being rendered in full 3D for live broadcast. And they can be fully appreciated next week when the BBC broadcasts the finals in high-definition 3D for the first time this year.

The men’s singles semi-finals, the men’s singles finals and the ladies’ singles finals are also being screened in high-definition 3D at cinemas around the world following a deal between Sony and the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced earlier this year.

Heat map display
Screen showing IBM SecondSight heat map display of Wimbledon match

Flack added that one of the few stats IBM has been unable to collect until now is how fast each player runs and what distances they cover during each point. The introduction of IBM SecondSight tracking software is helping to analyse player stamina and the affect this has on a match.

In trial on court 8, specialist cameras track player movements after an operator assigns them as objects of interest for SecondSight. This is helping IBM to build up a picture of where they spend most time on court that can be displayed as a heat map. It also allows them to compare the distances run, top speed and acceleration to make inferences about each competitor’s stamina levels.

“Knowing a point was made up of 13 shots really doesn’t really tell you that one player ran about twice the distance of the other during the point,” Flack explained. “Tracking technology like this has ben used in other sports, but its application here is more complex than, say, in football. We’re hoping to refine it over the next few days, so it can offer meaningful statistics for the Club to use.”

He added: “It’s all about the art of the possible. People don’t want to be sold a server. If people see what we do here with PointStream, for example, it’s easier for a retailer or credit company to think how they can use it with their data.”


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