How Watson is making the US Open fan experience better
Josh Martinez @joshfromny
Watson, the first commercially available cognitive computing solution, powers new consumer and enterprise services in the healthcare, financial services, retail, and education markets, among others. At this year's US Open, the tournament's digital team is using the artificial-intelligence technology to provide subtitles and transcripts for on-demand highlight clips, as well as to identify athletes and celebrities in photographs.
In addition, fans who attend the tournament can use the US Open mobile app to ask Watson where they can find anything from beer and pizza to restrooms and customer service kiosks. Watson's natural language feature allows fans to ask questions exactly as they would normally speak them, such as "Where can I get a hamburger," and "What about something to drink?"
The result is a win not only for fans searching for good eats inside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, but also for technology enthusiasts hoping for a glimpse at the latest breakthroughs in cognitive computing.
"Our job is to figure out ways to take new or emerging technologies and to use them at the Open in ways that are really helpful and engage fans," says Elizabeth O'Brien, IBM's program director for worldwide sports and entertainment sponsorship marketing. "This year we worked with the Watson teams and IBM research labs to identify and integrate cutting-edge technologies that would help make the digital experience great for fans everywhere."
At its core, Watson is capable of drawing connections between millions of diverse data points to understand context and learn over time. As an example, after looking at troves of photographs and being told the names of the people and objects in them, Watson's Visual Recognition tool can "see" a picture and immediately describe what's in it. Although the US Open's digital team is using the technology for the relatively low-stakes task of identifying players and celebrities in photos, the very same feature is being used to help radiologists analyze medical images.
The cognitive-computing additions to the US Open fan experience are perhaps the most impressive technologies IBM has brought to the US Open, continuing a decades-long commitment to transforming the tournament's digital experience.
In the years since IBM began sponsoring the tournament in 1990, the company has been responsible for building the event's first website, constructing its first cloud-storage system, and developing its first mobile app, along with numerous other innovations. Today, IBM's technology can be found behind nearly every touch point of the US Open experience - from the courtside radar guns that measure serve speed at Arthur Ashe Stadium to the real-time statistical insights delivered by the SlamTracker analytics technology.
With so many exciting tools on display at this year's Open, one can only guess what kind of innovation will be unveiled in the years to come. If nothing else, you can be certain that IBM is already hard at work dreaming up new ways to help tennis fans get more out of one of the sport's most exciting events.
"We're always looking for opportunities to make the fan experience and the tournament better," O'Brien says. "It's a live event, so there's no redo on it. The technology we bring has to be reliable and perform as expected - and it has to help the United States Tennis Association drive revenues and extend the game of tennis."
This post is sponsor content from IBM and was created by IBM and BI Studios.
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