IBM Has a Clever New Tech Industry Disruptor for Wimbledon

Artificial intelligence has become a bit of a disruptive technology. It is already transforming industries across just about every sector, from business administration to education, as AI-powered tools are streamlining work and, in some cases, enhancing productivity. 

Now, AI tools are coming to the sport of tennis through an additional collaboration between IBM and Wimbledon. 

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The new tools, which will be available on Wimbledon’s app and website, largely include two new features. The first involves AI commentary and the second involves AI draw analysis. 

“IBM is bringing new layers of insight and engagement to the 2023 Championships through the use of innovative new tools,” IBM’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, Jonatthan Adashek, said in a statement. “We’ve seen first-hand how these technologies have the power to help major sporting events like Wimbledon to grow their audiences through outstanding digital experiences.”

The commentary feature — intended to bring more commentary to more people beyond the Wimbledon Show Courts, which already include live (human) commentary — will provide people watching highlights videos the option of listening to AI-generated audio commentary. This includes captions, which can be toggled on and off. 

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The AI tool, powered by IBM’s watsonx and other data platforms, was trained in part by the All England Club to understand the “unique language of tennis.” 

The draw analysis feature, which, according to IBM, is the first statistic of its kind in the sport, takes advantage of AI to “define how favorable the path to the final might be for each player in the singles draw.”

The analysis will rate each player on a scale and will be based on a variety of factors including matches against future opponents. 

“This new insight,” IBM says, “will help tennis fans to uncover anomalies and potential surprises in the singles draw, which would not be apparent by looking only at the players’ ranking, inspiring more debate and engagement in the fan community.”

This is not the first time IBM and Wimbledon have collaborated to produce an AI-powered result. These new features come as an addition to a series of other AI tools available through Wimbledon’s app and website, including IBM Personalized Highlights Reels, Match Insights and the Power Index Leaderboard. 

The Wimbledon Championships start July 3 and run through July 16. 

“We are constantly innovating with our partners at IBM to provide Wimbledon fans, wherever they are in the world, with an insightful and engaging digital experience of The Championships,” The All England Club’s marketing and commercial director, Usama Al-Wassab, said in a statement. “This year, we’re introducing new features for our digital platforms that use the latest AI technology from IBM to help fans gain even more insight into the singles draw and access commentary on a wider variety of matches through our match highlights videos.”

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