While many of its famous traditions have remained the same since it began in 1877, Wimbledon has also been quietly innovating – particularly when it comes to technology and data. With a long standing partnership with IBM, Wimbledon has been leveraging Artificial Intelligence to enrich the fan experience. Here’s a look at how it’s being done:
Creating “Must Watch”moments:
While “big-name” matches draw significant TV audience, ‘appointment viewing’ seems to be in decline for sporting events like Wimbledon. This means Wimbledon needs to create and deliver content to align it with modern viewing habits so as to cater people watching different types of content on different devices at different times.
Since Wimbledon matches are often lengthy and action packed, it becomes challenging to condense them into short and easily accessible highlights videos. This is highly needed because only serious fans tend to have in-depth commentary and analysis of the matches while others would be more interested in watching behind-the-scenes look at Wimbledon as an event.
This year, Wimbledon is using IBM Watson to assist production teams in creating this type of content.
IBM Watson recognises and defines the “Action” by analysing the player emotion, movement and crowd noise in order to determine the most interesting and must-see moments to include. This helps to draw fans’ attention to matches they might not necessarily have watched, but that turn out to be just as thrilling (or even more so) than the most high-profile ones.
In this sense, the technology enables coverage to be fairer, with matches shown based on how exciting they are rather than who is playing.
In an attempt to personalise their social content for increasingly mobile audience, Wimbledon has launched a new Facebook Messenger chatbot. The idea is to keep its fans continuously engaged by providing news and updates on what they’re most interested in, such as specific players or match scores. This is bolstered by the fact that social media videos were viewed 106 million times in 2016 compared to 85 million in 2015, perhaps proving just how eager fans are to consume Wimbledon-related content in these channels.
Interestingly, the bot also uses Watson to integrate NLP (natural language processing), allowing it to answer questions (from natural language) rather than merely ask users to select from a basic decision-tree format.
So, instead of actively seeking out content, fans can engage with a stream of tailored news and updates delivered directly to them – without having to think about it or follow the order of play.
This certainly adds convenience and ramps up personalisation – making users feel like they’re getting something a bit more special than mainstream coverage – has undoubtedly contributed to its development.
Augmented Reality for Real Time Experiences:
For Wimbledon, importance of visitors coming to AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club) is no less than that of TV and online audiences. As a result, Wimbledon has a added a few extra features to ensure visitors feel as much as a part of the action as possible.
Last year, it introduced ‘Fred’ into its app – a smart assistant designed to help guide visitors around the ground, as well as offer information about facilities and ticketing.
This year, the app has also been updated to include new augmented reality features to enrich the experience for people walking to and from different areas. One in particular was born out of previous feedback from spectators that it is hard to identify players on the practice courts. So now, app users will be able to view overlayed graphics detailing key player stats when they point their camera at AR-enabled hotspots.
Wimbledon’s Slam Tracker – which provides real-time scores and insights about matches in progress – has also been updated to include a preview state. This means that spectators can check out where so-called ‘pressure points’ might occur during a match, and information about how a player might react in certain situations.
With fans able to access a whole new level of insight into the nuances of the game, it is this type of technology that sets Wimbledon apart from other championships (and even other sports).
To help mark the championship’s 150th anniversary, Wimbledon took help of AI to pull together thousands of images to create a mosaic style poster depicting an over-arching design of centre court.
It’s not necessarily ground-breaking, but the poster is perhaps more of a symbol of Wimbledon’s evolution than anything else. It’s an example of how the championship fuses together tradition and cutting edge technology, creating a spectacle for both new and long-standing fans of the sport.