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  • Writer's pictureElise Quevedo

Game, set, IBM! Redefining the Wimbledon fan experience through technology

The relationship between Wimbledon and IBM is considered a significant technological advancement due to the innovative solutions and digital transformation that IBM has brought to the tournament. IBM has been the official technology partner of Wimbledon for more than 30 years since 1990 and has played a significant role in revolutionizing the way the game is conducted and experienced by fans, players, and organizers.

As a former tennis player in my teenage years and an avid fan now who does not miss any of the grand slams, seeing how the game has evolved from a fan perspective thanks to technology, is magnificent.

In the UK alone, Wimbledon was streamed 54.3 million times during the fortnight, which was a record. So it makes sense that IBM has stepped up its game to provide an even better experience.

According to Tyler Sidell, IBM's Technical Program Director, Sports and Entertainment Partnerships:

IBM first pioneered the use of AI to curate video highlight reels in 2017, work that earned the IBM Consulting team a 2023 Emmy® Award. The solution uses gesture recognition (such as fist pumps and players’ reactions), crowd noise and game analytics (such as break points) to identify highlight-worthy videos in both golf and tennis.
This year, fans can add AI-generated spoken commentary to Wimbledon highlight reels, hearing play-by-play narration for the start and end of each reel, along with key points. Fans can also turn on closed captions to further enhance accessibility, a key consideration for AELTC.
The solution is built from a foundation model developed using watsonx, IBM’s enterprise-grade AI platform designed to manage the entire lifecycle of AI models, from curating trusted data sources to governing responsible, trusted AI.

As I wrote in my piece about IBM Think Orlando, IBM is creating new opportunities for their clients with their unique ability to integrate technology and business expertise and to co-create with them on digital reinvention.

Here are a few reasons why the relationship between Wimbledon and IBM is regarded as a remarkable technological advancement:

Data and Analytics: IBM has pioneered the use of data and analytics in tennis, capturing and analyzing vast amounts of data during matches. They use advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, to process real-time data such as player statistics, ball speed, player movement, and more. These insights provide fans, commentators, and players with valuable information, enhancing the overall understanding and enjoyment of the game.

Cognitive Highlights: IBM's Watson AI technology is used to create "Cognitive Highlights" at Wimbledon. Watson analyzes video footage from multiple matches and identifies the most exciting moments based on crowd noise, player reactions, and match context. These highlights are then compiled and shared with fans and media, allowing them to quickly catch up on the most thrilling moments without watching every match.

Player Performance: IBM's data and analytics capabilities help players improve their performance. They provide players with detailed match analyses, performance comparisons against other players, and predictive insights based on historical data. This enables players and their coaches to identify strengths, weaknesses, and patterns, leading to more informed training and game strategies.

Digital Platforms and Fan Engagement: IBM has played a vital role in transforming the digital experience for Wimbledon fans. They have developed interactive mobile apps and websites that provide live scores, match statistics, player profiles, video highlights, and personalized content. IBM's technology enables fans to engage with the tournament from anywhere in the world, creating an immersive and interactive experience.

Cloud Computing and Infrastructure: IBM's cloud computing infrastructure ensures the seamless operation of Wimbledon's digital platforms, handling high volumes of data, traffic, and user interactions. This scalability and reliability allow fans to access information and services without interruptions during peak periods.

The partnership between Wimbledon and IBM showcases the power of technology to enhance the traditional sporting experience, enabling data-driven insights, engaging fans worldwide, and empowering players to excel.

The collaboration has set a benchmark for the integration of technology in sports, making it a significant technological advancement.

Let’s continue building the right partnerships around the globe because as I always say, together we are stronger.

Congratulations to Carlos Alcaraz, third man to win Wimbledon before his 21st birthday.


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