IBM’s Watson eats data for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’ve seen it play chess, diagnose rare diseases, drive cars, identify faces and spot irregularities in the world of finance. Its latest trick? Watson was front and center at the Tennis Open. It’s all over now, but Watson played a starring role that we’ll probably be seeing for some time to come.
Every time you watched a video clip showcasing the game’s highlights, those highlights were selected by Watson. When fans in the stands could talk to their smartphones and ask if Nadal was playing that day, or where the best restaurant was, Watson was behind that too. Finally, Watson provided data on top of data -- twelve years of it -- comparing players’ performance, real-time scores, stats and insights for all live and completed matches, all available to fans everywhere.
The headlining trick was what IBM is calling Cognitive Highlights, the pieces of technology that detect and then auto-curate highlights of a match. IBM says that Watson can “recognize what an important moment in a match looks like.” To do this, they create algorithms to detect and analyze everything from the sound of the crowd (cheering) to the player’s gestures and facial expressions. They also look for strategic moments in a match, like breakpoints. I can’t imagine that a few epic moments go by unnoticed, or that this year’s highlights may have an improbable number of fist bumps, but Watson replaces the 40 freelancers previously hired for the job. And does it in a fraction of the time.
Known to be a bit of a gadfly when it comes to publicity, Watson seems to be basking in the stadium lights now. Next up, it’s on to Atlanta, where IBM helps to power the 360-degree fan experience at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The smarter stadium will feature Watson apps, as well as the Halo scoreboard supported by 4,000 miles of Fiber Optics and 90 miles of audio cabling (enough to go from Frankfurt to New York).
When’s the Super Bowl?