After Australian Open split, IBM takes AI to Wimbledon

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After Australian Open split, IBM takes AI to Wimbledon

Splitting as a key sponsor of the Australian Open hasn’t stopped IBM from being involved in another of the world’s grand slam championships, Wimbledon.

The global technology provider, which saw its more than two-decade partnership with the Australian Open end last year, will next month take AI to Wimbledon that it says will analyse player emotions to help automate the compilation of video highlights.

IBM’s Watson AI platform has been taught to recognise players’ emotions, which it will combine with an analysis of crowd noise, players’ movements and match data, according to Big Blue.

IBM’s Wimbledon client executive Sam Seddon said the company was using machine learning to try and find those seconds when players had a heightened sense of emotion after an exciting shot or rally.

“If you’ve got the visual element from the player, and you know that it’s a tight pressure point in the match, then those are the points that you are going to really target in on in the highlights package,” he said in an interview.

He said the AI platform also analysed noise from the thousands of spectators who attend the annual tournament in south-west London.

“We are listening for the volume of the crowd - if you have got a fantastic rally that noise levels will go up and down during that point,” he said.

“When that is happening, we flag it as particularly interesting.”

CRN revealed in October last year that IBM's technology partnership with the Australian Open had been terminated after 24 years.

The IBM logo had been a fixture at major tennis tournaments, in particular on the courtside service speed display.

"IBM is proud of the two-decade technology partnership held with the Australian Open as part of the tennis grand slam program," an IBM spokesperson said at the time.

"IBM continually looks at future marketing initiatives to ensure they align with its business direction. IBM will continue to find compelling ways to connect fans with global sports events through breakthrough digital technology and services."

The IT giant provided a range of technology services to Tennis Australia, including web hosting and IT services as well as functionality for fans, such as iOS and Android mobile apps.

Additional reporting by Paul Sandle. Editing by Alexander Smith.

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