American Express creates AI tennis at US Open

Monday, September 4, 2017

By: Sport Industry Group

American Express has launched a new experience at the US Open that allows fans to play tennis in a virtual experience, facing an AI opponent.

The game called Air Tennis doesn’t use any equipment and fans face an AI opponent. Users use their hands and body to return the ball and the experience is customised to each player through a Kinect motion sensing device that captures each player’s body shape and builds a ‘virtual skeleton’ to tailor the experience to their height and position.

When it’s time to hit the ball, the game delivers a puff of air out of one of the five tubes, two to the left, two on the right and one up top.

There are eight bays for fans to play in, people can play simultaneously in the structure that’s built specifically for American Express by Momentum Worldwide. Fans will test their skills against an AI opponent on a large screen that serves them a ball from across a digital tennis court.

As player’s hitting streak increases, the balls ‘catch fire’ and move faster with the goal to get the highest average streak in two minutes.

“We really constructed and designed the experience to create that level of spectator engagement, as well as to provide as many fans with the opportunity to play, which is why we created multiple bays so we could get as many fans experiencing the specialness of it as possible,” Deborah Curtis, vp, global experiential marketing at American Express, said.

“For us it’s about, what are the different dimensions that make that talent special? Also, [what are some] things that are important and instrumental to our brand? One of the things that we talked to Venus about is the fact that she’s an entrepreneur and her life blends between being a tennis pro, her personal life and her new businesses. We are also in the business of supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs, so we were very excited to bring her interior design business into the design of our card member club experience,” Curtis said.