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How Wimbledon is Using AI to Power the Game Experience

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Efforts are been made by using Artificial Intelligence to make Wimbledon fairer. Read on to know more about it…

Tennis is a symphony of precision and technique, psychological warfare and mesmerizing muscle memory, where the line between victory and defeat can be as tight as your belt after a third helping of strawberries.

Wimbledon Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will now examine players’ reactions to instantly decide best bits of every tennis match. The All England Club, which hosts the famed British tennis event, is adding technology enhancements at this year’s tournament aimed at eliminating bias from computer-generated video highlights. The club has already been using Artificial Intelligence to go through hours of footage and automatically pick out the best shots from matches played on its 18 courts. The Artificial Intelligence  chooses the moments based on criteria including whether a player does a fist pump and how much the audience cheers after a point. Fans can then watch the assembled videos online.

Provided by IBM since 2015, AI equipment at Wimbledon is installed throughout 10 courts to monitor up to 10 hours of play a day over 13 days. Last year there were 220 million views of highlights across Wimbledon’s digital platforms. For this year’s tournament, which runs until July 19, the Artificial Intelligence has been tweaked to balance out any favoritism shown to a player who gestures more or has a louder fan base.

Traditionally, it did this by using visual image recognition to capture how animated players get and measuring the euphoria of the crowd via a microphone, in order to evaluate every single point of the tournament and give each one an ‘excitement ranking’. This year the focus is on fair play. Watson’s latest toy, OpenScale, eliminates ‘inadvertent bias’ during the creation of these highlights packages. For example, a pumped-up Rafa Nadal could generate more noise than a reserved player like Naomi Osaka, so the AI now takes these factors into account.

Tech bias has come into focus lately amid growing awareness that Artificial Intelligence systems are not neutral tools but reflect society because they are programmed by humans. Other, more serious examples include facial recognition that misidentifies darker-skinned people and financial algorithms that charge higher interest rates to Latino and black borrowers. Some U.S. lawmakers are calling for tighter scrutiny that includes subjecting big companies to an “algorithmic accountability” test of their high-risk AI systems.

Working Mechanism
The Championships is using “more AI than ever before” to capture the best bits in a match, including analyzing the players body language through a live video stream and measuring the crowd noise through a microphone in the umpire’s chair.

Wimbledon’s machine uses the visual image recognition technology to capture players’ reactions in order to instantly clip highlights for viewers to watch at the end of the game. The technology, named IBM Watson, can pick up anything from an agonizing gasp to a celebratory cheer – prompting him to automatically clip that point in the match. Each point is then ranked based on crowd excitement and player gestures, enabling the team of 180 people based in Wimbledon’s AI bunker to “automatically generate” the best moments for highlights in just two minutes.

This year, for the first time, IBM Watson has been taught “to understand the strike of a tennis ball on a racquet.”

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