Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to play a role in curating highlights footage at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, with the help of the tournament's long-term official digital partner IBM.
For the first time, the global technology giant plans to deploy its Watson AI platform to analyse the emotions of players on court.
The data will be combined with other inputs including movement tracking, crowd noise and match data to identify and edit the best footage.
IBM believes the system can save hours in the editing process, allowing it to deliver packaged highlights from the six main show courts within five to ten minutes.
The videos will feed the championships’ official website, apps and social media channels.
IBM's latest development is part of a string of digital improvements for the 2018 edition of The Championships, which also include a new 'social-assistant' for fans off-site and a revamped website.
Sam Seddon, programme executive at IBM, said: "Recognising player emotion is based on analysis of the broadcast video, and on looking for gesticulation – so for example fist pumping, arms aloft, hand shaking at the end of a match, and strong demonstrations of emotion such as shouting.
"It is a combination of factors – we also look at the level of fan interest in a particular match, match data, and audience applause from during a game."
Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital, AELTC, added: “We strive to ensure that our traditions remain relevant in the context of today, and are determined not to rest on our laurels. We want to engage with existing as well as new fans around the world, to help them be part of The Championships 2018, especially in what will be such a competitive sporting summer. We want to tell the stories of the phenomenal athleticism of our great players, the gladiatorial nature of the matches they play and explain the sporting narratives that will cut through to our audiences.
“These technology innovations are at the hearts of our efforts to continuing our journey towards a great digital experience that ensures we connect with our fans across the globe – wherever they may be watching and from whatever device that may be. For example, we are extending our content offering into Facebook Messenger, allowing fans to access tailored information on scores, news and players within a social platform. It’s also fitting that in this, our 150th anniversary year, we are using AI technology to design our unique celebratory poster, a genuine combination of design and data to provide fans with the unique Wimbledon experience they expect and more.”
IBM’s technology is already being used by Fox in it US coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A free, browser-based ‘Highlight Machine’ is also available to fans, allowing them to cut and share their own clips on social media.