Wimbledon using artificial intelligence to serve up enhanced highlights

Artificial intelligence will be used for the first time at this year's Wimbledon Championships to auto-generate video highlights.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 27th June 2017, 5:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:46 am
The Wim app
The Wim app

Player celebrations, crowd noise, and even racket smashes will be analysed using the new technology to create a package of the best moments and key turning points in a tennis match.

Wimbledon hopes that by using multiple sources of data the AI will be better at finding the match highlights than a member of editorial staff.

Alexandra Willis, head of communications, content and digital at Wimbledon, said: "We would notice quite a bit of chat on social media about the quality of highlights - it's difficult to get it right, it's very subjective."

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The Ask Fred page from the Wim app

Other new technology available this Championships includes a chatbot called "Ask Fred".

The Siri-style bot, named after Fred Perry, will allow Wimbledon visitors to find out information and plan their day more easily .

Mobile and tablet users will be able to ask Fred "where is the nearest food stall?", or find out where to buy the Championships' famous towels.

The two new innovations are part of Wimbledon's plan to test how data and technology can improve the experience of the average Wimbledon visitor.

Artificial intelligence will be used for the first time at this year's Wimbledon Championships

The artificial intelligence system, created by IBM, will analyse a range of features to assess what should go in the highlights reel. Facial recognition software will be used to track players' emotions and match statistics will be used to pinpoint key deciding moments.

As well as analysing live parts of a tennis match - one of Andy Murray's famous angry outbursts would indicate the game is going poorly for him - the technology uses social media to judge match highlights.

Twitter will be used to note spikes in viewer engagement - a peak in excited tweets could coincide with a particularly good shot or rally for example.

The AI will also make the process of creating video highlights quicker.

The Ask Fred page from the Wim app

Previously, editorial staff would sift through hours of footage to make packages.

It would take them around 50 minutes to put together a video, hand curating the best clips using their personal judgment. IBM hopes the AI can shave that down to around half an hour by creating the videos automatically.

However, the role of humans has not been completely erased - the highlights packages will be checked before they are published on the official Wimbledon app.

Ms Willis said that part of the motivation for investing in the new technology was to beat the tennis tournament's competitors in terms of quality and speed.

Artificial intelligence will be used for the first time at this year's Wimbledon Championships

She added: "In an increasingly competitive sporting landscape, IBM's technology innovations are critical to continuing our journey towards a great digital experience that ensures we connect with our fans across the globe."

Wimbledon will also have bespoke Snapchat lenses and Facebook frames for the duration of the tournament, as well as providing public WiFi for the first time, in three designated areas.