IBM Serves Up an Ace With AI at the US Open

How artificial intelligence is going beyond the court

IBM brings its fan experience for a second year.
IBM

For anyone attending the U.S. Open, the tournament has become much bigger than simply watching the tennis matches.

Between activations from American Express and all the different food concessions, there’s plenty of action happening off the courts, too. IBM, which helps the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) power the website and mobile experience for the Open, brought back its Fan Experience for the second year, giving attendees a peek into how it uses AI to help both the USTA and its broadcast partners.

“It gives fans a fun way to see what’s going on behind the scenes and explore how the fan experience is enhanced by AI technology,” said Kristi Kolski, sports and entertainment program director at IBM. Fans can look through various highlights from the matches—including live ones—powered by AI, and even create their own.

Currently, IBM uses AI to process live video and find those noteworthy moments throughout all the different matches in order to deliver them to broadcast networks more quickly, making it easier on the USTA to edit videos. This year, the company is employing IBM Watson OpenScale, which lets AI also see how fans are reacting, giving additional character to the videos beyond players getting overly excited or emotional on the court. Kolski said the AI highlights are vital for a two-week tournament with so many games taking place across 17 courts.

It’s the ability to identify those great moments and help the editors get it out on digital platforms,” she said. “It’s really helping to scale the expertise.”

IBM piloted AI highlights at the 2017 Masters golf tournament, and has since been working with the USTA on how to find these highlights so fans can quickly experience the U.S. Open as well. The company also used AI at the 2018 Grammys to spot that year’s fashion trends.

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